Society’s sudden leap towards digital technologies and electronic platforms signals now, more than ever, the possibility for a truly democratic control over our economic and social worlds. In this spirit, the first Platform Cooperativism conference was held at the New School in 2017. In the years which have followed, participants have discovered bold new ways of changing how we think about business, the economy, labor, and society.
The platform co-op movement disrupts Silicon Valley’s disruptors by shifting the focus toward fundamentally fairer forms of ownership and governance. The retirement of Baby Boomer business owners presents an opportunity for mass conversions of those businesses into co-ops. Existing cooperatives are increasingly eager to join the digital economy. Over the past few years, the burgeoning of platform co-ops, community currencies, worker’s tech, the solidarity economy, B-corps, and credit unions have shown us that alternative economies are not only necessary but possible.
Platform co-ops have emerged in areas like child care, art, journalism, transportation, social media, and food. Now, it is time to determine in which sector this business model works best and develop strategies for turning these experiments into robust answers to pressing challenges. How can public policy spur and protect cooperative platforms? What kinds of financing and legal support do they need?
This year’s event will zero in on ways that platform cooperatives can help to address some of the world’s most urgent challenges. The fairer the digital economy we need is already emerging everywhere around us.