It’s getting harder to remember life before, but we’re still in the early, “in it together” phase of this crisis. Barely. The stratification of society that was already here is becoming clear again. The gap between who has power and who doesn’t — already big — is getting bigger.

The Ownership Crisis

As companies and their owners reap massive rewards (Uber’s valuation is up $30 billion since March), the rest of the population will be acutely aware of how un-rich they’re getting (36 million people unemployed right now in the US). News like Jeff Bezos becoming a paper trillionaire further fans the flames.

Collective Ownership

Collective ownership can take a number of forms: unions, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), and stock options are all related. But the most important means of collective ownership will be the resurgence of an old model: the co-op.

The Growth of Non-Growth

By the end of the decade, every category will have a co-op player. Some of these will fail. Others will replace the existing “do-gooder” players in their category with a “do-better” offer. Many more will break up larger markets into smaller, more directly owned ones. After globalization is Balkanization.

Recommended Reading

Picture two potential paths for an entrepreneur:

  • Path #2: Have an idea, implement it as a co-op with a community of people who share your vision, decide from the beginning how big the organization/service will be, operate within those margins with your community for the foreseeable future, survive good times and bad.
  • Before COVID-19, Path #1 was the socially valid path. Path #2 was derisively called a “lifestyle business.” Now these two paths look very different.

Author of “This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World”; Cofounder of Kickstarter; Bentoist;

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