Designing Positive Platforms

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* Report: Designing positive platforms: a guide for a governance-based approach. By Ana Manzanedo and Alícia Trepat. Institute For The Future research on Positive Platforms, IFTF, May 2017



"A positive platform:

  • a positive platform should offer its contributors the authority to make decisions about their working conditions and the right to organize themselves collectively.
  • these professionals need benefits that go beyond basic financial compensation in exchange for the value they create."


"As the labor market shifts towards an on-demand model, professionals are generating new sources of immediate income. Driven by realtime, highly customized expectations by clients and service providers, this technology-fueled phenomenon is known as the gig economy. The gig economy runs entirely on online social platforms that connect people, knowledge, and opportunities for meaningful collaborative work.

However, many of these platforms “have been accused of marginalizing workers, negatively impacting cities and nations by stressing existing regulations, behaving just like new middlemen, displacing the old ones.”

Despite these challenges, studies suggest that by 2025 up to 540 million people will participate in the platform economy. This presents both opportunities and challenges towards establishing more flexible and fair working models: “Platform work is neither inherently good nor bad. It has both potential for upsides to be amplified and downsides.” Some of the downsides of platforms include unstable work schedules, job instability, and reduced access to benefits.

Regulation is one possible solution to these downsides, but it’s also important to bake-in positive aspects of platforms at every phase of their design and implementation.

Moreover, the long-term sustainability of a platform depends on the individuals who contribute to it. This is why professionals will often be referred to as “contributors” in this document."



In classical organizations, business-owners and entrepreneurs carry the risk. However, in the gig economy, contributors carry part of that risk by assuming a degree of liability for the services they offer through the platform. Although the contributors are the ones actually creating the value in the platform through their offer, they are seldom given the right to make decisions about the platform related to their products and services.

To tackle this issue, a positive platform should offer its contributors the authority to make decisions about their working conditions and the right to organize themselves collectively.


"In the gig economy, the definition of “worker” has become a legal debate (which will not be covered here).

In any case, the fact remains that these professionals need benefits that go beyond basic financial compensation in exchange for the value they create."


The interviewed:

  • Caroline Delboy from MakeSense
  • Felix Weth from Fairmondo
  • Joshua Danielson from Loconomics
  • Lieza Dessein from SMart
  • Lieven D’hont from Peerby
  • Maro Horta from Faircoop
  • Michelle Miller from
  • Noemie de Grenier from Coopaname
  • Stelio Verzera from Cocoon projects
  • Richard Bartlett from Enspiral (Loomio)
  • Tiberius Brastaviceanu from Sensorica

Organizations analyzed for the development of this guide:

"We interviewed the following organizations because their goals and actions around governance and decision-making closely matched our definition of a positive platform:

Cocoon Projects

is the first European open enterprise providing end-to-end services for the evolution of large and small value-driven organizations.

· Year founded: 2011 · Country of origin: Italy · Number of employees/contributors: 40 regular contributors · Revenue: 300.000 € · Property model: limited liability company


is a business and employment cooperative, which is affiliated to a network of similar cooperatives in France and Belgium. The company offers services to unemployed people, many of whom are women. Specifically, it provides participants with opportunities to test and realize business projects in any sector while at the same time retaining their employee status. The initiative therefore allows people to engage in business creation endeavors while still maintaining their social security entitlements.

· Year founded: 2004 · Country of origin: France · Number of employees/contributors: 850 contributors · Revenue: 9,5M € · Property model: cooperative


is a virtual and physical network of companies and professionals brought together by a set of shared values and a passion for positive social impact. It’s sort of a “DIY” social enterprise support network. At its heart, it’s a group of people who want to co-create an encouraging, diverse community of people trying to make a difference.


is a California Cooperative Corporation that provides an app for booking services that is 100% owned by local professionals.

· Year founded: 2014 · Country of origin: US · Number of employees/contributors: activity to be started, 2,5 employees · Revenue:Alternative: activity to be started · Property model: cooperative


is an international community that rallies citizens across the world to help social entrepreneurs solve their challenges. By combining their skills and ideas, anyone can help social entrepreneurs create and develop their businesses and solve the most pressing issues faced by society in such arenas as: education, health, environment, food, etc. Since 2010, MakeSense has mobilized 30,000 volunteers in more than 100 cities worldwide to help 2,000 social entrepreneurs during problem-solving workshops.

· Year founded: 2010 · Country of origin: France · Number of employees/contributors: 70 employees including affiliated structures (ecosystem), 20.000 contributors · Revenue: 500,000 € MakeSense, 1.8M € the whole ecosystem · Property model: non-for-profit association


is a global community, a collective of freelancers and, at heart, an incubator of people driven by a set of core values. Founded in January 2012 in Paris, OuiShare rapidly evolved from a dozen enthusiasts to a global community spread across Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, and is an international leader in the field of collaborative economies, the future of cities, and the future of work.

· Year founded: 2012 · Country of origin: France · Number of employees/contributors: 80 connectors, 5.000 members · Revenue: 2M € · Property model: non-profit organization (associations & foundations)


is the first commons-based peer production network committed to the design and deployment of sensors and sense-making systems, utilizing open source software and hardware solutions. It developed an IT infrastructure and governance to support complex economic activity of open networks.

· Year founded: 2011 · Country of origin: Canada · Number of employees/contributors: in December 2015 there were 121 contributors, but this number varies in time. · Revenue: - · Property model: nondominium (from a legal perspective, it is a non-registered association)


is a non-profit organization created in Belgium in 1998 and is currently expanding into 9 European countries. Its aim is to simplify and support the professional paths of all project workers and freelancers looking for an alternative to self-employment. All workers are employees of SMart during the time of their mission. They offer multiple services such as information, trainings, legal advice, van rentals, subsidies, a social professional network, etc. SMart became a a coop in January 2017.

· Year founded: 1998 · Country of origin: Belgium · Number of employees/contributors: 160 employees, 2,500 cooperativists, 20,000 members using the services yearly, 85,000 members (overall), 150,000 stakeholders · Revenue: a turnover of 125M € in 2015 · Property model: cooperative

Other organizations we have learned from:


is a tool and channel to boost the potential of agents that act as engines of economic and social development in the region of Catalonia. It aims to promote local development based on social and sustainable economy that will contribute to job creation, strengthening the business, and social cohesion.

is a non-profit organization. It is an online platform that puts the power of collective bargaining into the hands of all workers, all over the world. It represents a scalable departure from traditional union organizing by providing ordinary people with online tools and training to organize their co-workers and advocate for changes on the job.

When launches, it will be a petition-based internet service.

The worker’s initial point of entry will be the creation of a petition targeted at their employers and centered on the change they would like to see in their workplace.


is a Dutch startup that operates a peer-to-peer sharing service for products. Users can share or request items from people in their neighborhood online, via their mobile or via social media channels.

The product was launched (beta) for Amsterdam in August 2012, and the team is rapidly expanding to other areas. Peerby raised $2.2 million over the course of a weekend from 1,051 crowdfunders through an equity crowdfunding campaign.


is home to royalty-free stock photography and video footage owned by the artists producing them (coop). The contributing artists receive 50% of a Standard License Purchase and 75% of an Extended License Purchase—and every single co-op member receives a share of the company

More information

  • @iftf |
  • see also:
  1. Fidler, David (2016), Work, interrupted, The New Labor Economics of Platforms, Institute For The Future.
  2. (2016) The power of platforms: Part of the “Business ecosystems come of age” report. Deloitte University Press. Available at:
  3. Ospina, Jose (2017), The future of organizations --> no “organizations” at all?, article: