On the face of it, Loconomics and Bring It Local sound like typical tech startups.
But behind the scenes, both companies are fomenting a quiet revolution in their business structures. They are organizing themselves as cooperatives - for-profit enterprises owned by the people who work for and use the services.
Loconomics provides an online marketplace and business-management software for entrepreneurs such as bodyworkers and psychotherapists. Bring It Local offers online crowdfunding tools for grassroots groups.
The co-op members - freelancers in the case of Loconomics; employees and donors in the case of Bring It Local - will own shares, receive dividends and have a voice in running the companies.
"Loconomics is like TaskRabbit if the rabbits owned the company," said attorney Janelle Orsi of the Sustainable Economies Law Center in Berkeley, who's helping set up the business structure. "It's not a platform for the rich to get richer, it's a platform for reversing that."
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