[p2p-research] The Non-Corporate Fortune 500

Ryan Lanham rlanham1963 at gmail.com
Sat Nov 28 14:05:03 CET 2009

We've (my family) have used USAA for years and love them.  Great firm.  I
think of it as a mutual or co-op.  Of course there are millions of
those...but I agree, in a broad definition of P2P, they fit.  Another
example is credit unions.  Still another are grain co-ops.

Lots dislike USAA because it excludes if you do not have a direct link to
the US military.

Most people also separate for-profit from P2P.  Europeans are squeamish
about capitalism and profit in particular and see them as implicitly evil in
at least 50% of cases.  Of course we see that as implicitly un-American for
which they think we are savage and primitive and we think they are lazy and
free-riding.  Canada and Australia inhabit the middle ground with European
sensitivities but systems that are closer to the US culturally.  Tough
judgmental world out there.


On Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 10:41 PM, J. Andrew Rogers
<reality.miner at gmail.com>wrote:

> Most people are not aware that one of the largest US companies is
> uniquely, literally, and legally P2P due to some quirks of its
> history.  It may be one of the best examples of a high-functioning
> massive-scale P2P quasi-commercial enterprise.  I was reminded of this
> today and thought I would offer it up as an interesting real-world
> example of how this can work at scale.
> One of the largest and most successful financial services and banking
> firms in the US is basically a true P2P organization.  It is neither a
> corporation nor a non-profit, and it has no shareholders, the
> top-level structure being a type of obscure P2P organization allowed
> under an old Texas law. It is consistently rated as one of the
> best-run financial services firms in the US. The very significant
> diversified assets of the company are entirely owned by its customers.
> A weird legal consequence of this is that the company's *customers*
> had unlimited liability for most of its history, though a special
> change to the law was created not that many years ago specifically to
> limit their customer's liability.
> The company?  USAA. It started out as a simple P2P auto insurance
> organization in the 1920s when the existing insurance companies
> refused to insure some people deemed to be "too risky" and so they
> decided to insure each other. Almost a century later, it is still
> legally a P2P organization but also one of the largest and most
> successful financial companies in the US. It has restrictive
> membership requirements, but since membership can pass to descendants
> very few current members could actually qualify on their own.
> (Disclosure: I am not qualified by myself but I do have a hereditary
> membership to USAA and use them for pretty much every financial aspect
> of my life.)
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USAA
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