How could Snowdrift and Zebra Unite work together?

Zebras Unite is:
“a network that connects founders, investors, and communities who want to see a more sustainable and inclusive kind of startup ecosystem. In contrast to the winner-take-all fantasy of the unicorn, Zebras build startups that are diverse, practical, and accountable to the people they claim to serve. We do not believe that genuine diversity will come from more diversity programs in status-quo companies; it requires rethinking how startups work, how they are funded, and what and who they are built for.”

They are part of the Platform Cooperative movement, and a big part of their strategy is agitating for existing platforms owned by startups to “exit to community”, as an alternative to being acquired by a datafarming corporation or becoming one (via IPO). For example, in the article linked above, they lay out a vision for WeWork to sell Meetup.com to its members, making it a platform cooperative.

Considering that Snowdrift could also be described as a platform cooperative that “connects founders, investors, and communities who want to see a more sustainable and inclusive kind of startup ecosystem”, I wonder how to two projects could work together towards this common goal?

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I appreciate Aral Balkan’s term “stayup” in contrast to “startup”.

Snowdrift.coop could potentially serve as a tool for doing the sort of ransoming that Zebra Unite is aiming for. I’d see it like this:

  • Project gets listed as a ransom explicitly
  • It lists what level of patronage it needs to reach to get fully freed
  • We don’t allow funding to actually go through until the project meets our FLO public goods requirements

So, this would work whether or not there are investors to pay off. Just anyone nervous about freeing their project because they fear lost potential profit could do such a ransom with us. So, that could be proprietary projects that have no investors but are just concerned about losing revenue.

Overall, I think ransoming away stuff that had investors probably involves more of a ransom a la Kickstarter-style one-off payouts, like Blender did. (P.S. Thinking about ransoms is reminding me of the negotiation book I’m currently reading by Chris Voss learned about from https://fs.blog/knowledge-project/chris-voss/)

I don’t think investors fit into our model really. The premise we have is that public goods should not be expected to ever turn a profit that could reward investors, and that’s a core part of the dilemma we’re addressing.

I certainly am happy to have any cross-pollination and connection with the folks behind Zebra Unite as we clearly have aligned values. I don’t know how we could directly work together.