Loconomics

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= a San Francisco-based startup designed, like TaskRabbit, to manage short-term freelance jobs; but unlike TaskRabbit, administrators and freelancers alike will be members with equal voting rights

URL = https://loconomics.com/


Description

1.

"Loconomics Cooperative's mission is to use technology, shared ownership, and community to grow local economies.

We provide local service professionals (our owners) with the tools, marketplace, and community that empower them to thrive in their work.

Together, we are building an on-demand marketplace where everyone can discover and book local service professionals safely, easily, and directly."


2. Nathan Schneider:

"Loconomics is a San Francisco-based startup designed, like TaskRabbit, to manage short-term freelance jobs; but unlike TaskRabbit, administrators and freelancers alike will be members with equal voting rights. The Sustainable Economies Law Center is advising the project, and others like it, on the strategy and the paperwork. As Loconomics prepares to begin operations this winter, it’s running out of the pocket of the founder, Josh Danielson — a far cry from the millions that TaskRabbit raised from investors in its early years."

Discussion

Loconomics as a platform cooperative

Amy Cortese:


"The new platforms all share a vision of the Internet as a commons. While most so-called sharing economy platforms are top-down affairs backed by venture capital, these emerging platforms are structured as democratically owned and governed cooperatives run for the benefit of their worker-owners.

“The cooperative element of Loconomics ensures that the platform stays in the best interests of the people who are supplying the labor and not in the interests of short-term profits,” says Josh Danielson, the site’s founder. His goal, he adds, is to “create a long-term material impact with hopes of reducing income inequality by cutting out middlemen in local economies.”


Danielson got his first taste of the sharing economy when he began renting out his San Francisco apartment on Airbnb, the room-rental service, to help cover the rent while he was in business school. Itching to start a business that had social impact, he gravitated to the platform model. “I saw these platforms as being the future,” he explains. “I knew there would be great power in the hands of those who own and control them.”

The platform has been under development for more than two years. With help from the Sustainable Economies Law Center in Oakland, Danielson created a framework of bylaws that will govern the cooperative enterprise.

In early November, Danielson invited dozens of freelance service providers to a meeting where he unveiled the cooperative. Some 35 independent professionals have signed up for a beta test of the platform, which will officially launch as a cooperative early next year.

Loconomics takes no commission from their revenue. Instead, the cooperative’s worker-owners pay a monthly fee that gives them access to the platform and funds its marketing and operations. Any profits will be reinvested into the company or shared with the worker-owners, based upon the hours they have booked through the platform. The members will also elect a board to govern the site.

That appeals to Christopher Renfro, a furniture salesman by day who moonlights as a photographer, music producer, visual designer and consultant in his 0ff-hours. He was won over by the functionality of the Loconomics platform, including the ability to create a personalized profile that reflects his many talents and to tap into a community of freelancers and cross-referrals. But, he adds, “I’m also glad that this platform will not be helping someone high up in a penthouse get more rich.”

Will the upstarts be able to compete with established and well-funded players such as Task Rabbit or Uber, whose latest funding round values it at close to $70 billion? Given the network effects that govern such businesses, the challengers face a steep hurdle. But the options are stark.

As Janelle Orsi, executive director of the Sustainable Economies Law Center, commented in The Nation recently, “We have a choice: Keep using platforms that widen the wealth gap, or build tech platforms as commons.” (http://www.locavesting.com/spotlight/the-worker-owned-sharing-economy-aims-to-disrupt-the-disruptors/)


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