User trusts: broad-based ownership for online platforms


This essay introduces what promise a novel broad-based capital strategy—trusts serving platform users—might hold for the online economy, especially as an enabler of more widespread, organized, and democratic user accountability. It draws on lessons from the experience of employee ownership alongside emerging opportunities for other kinds of broad-based ownership structures. User-oriented trusts could enable meaningful co-governance and profit sharing among essential stakeholders, a prospect that merits research and experimentation.

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The author is grateful for the substantive input from Paul Bindel, Joseph Blasi, Greg Brodsky, David Ellerman, Camille Kerr, Morshed Mannan, Christopher Michael, Derek Razo, Danny Spitzberg, and Jason Wiener, in addition to the financial support through a Louis O. Kelso Fellowship from the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations.

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Correspondence to Nathan Schneider.

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Schneider, N. User trusts: broad-based ownership for online platforms. Informatik Spektrum 43, 9–14 (2020).

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