First different: the compensation model
The first difference has to do with the compensation model. Airbnb is asking the SEC to allow it to do what it is already doing for investors and staff: namely, offer them shares. At present, it cannot offer shares to gig economy workers because they are not employees of the company.
Airbnb, by its own admission, would be “nothing” without its hosts. In the Airbnb model, hosts are people who offer a room in their homes, or sometimes an entire property, as accommodation for travelers. The traveler pays the host through Airbnb, and the company takes a cut for the use of its platform.
The comparison to the platform cooperative model
Compare this to the platform cooperative model, in which service providers are owners. Victoria, B.C.-based stock photo site Stocksy(1) | #Stocksy | is owned by the artists who upload their photos to it. Germany-based e-commerce site Fairmondo is entirely owned by its sellers. Up & Go allows the small cooperative house-cleaning businesses that use it to build equity as owners.
The second difference: ownership
The second difference, then, is a question of ownership. Airbnb has a set of shareholders who are the owners of the company. By contrast, platform cooperatives are, by definition, owned by the people who make them possible.
Stocksy’s photographers, Fairmondo’s sellers, and Up & Go’s cleaners receive equity as owners in their respective companies. That is the second crucial difference with Airbnb’s host program.
The third difference is a difference of perspective
If Airbnb succeeds, it will convert some of its hosts to part-owners. This is certainly a step closer to the platform cooperative model, in that the hosts would have some degree of ownership.
However, Airbnb is a $30 billion hospitality behemoth. Offering shares to some of its hosts would still not leave it anywhere close to the same ballpark as platform cooperatives, which are owned by the people who make them possible.
Airbnb build empires on the backs of gig economy workers
Airbnb and other big-tech gig economy P2P companies have built empires on the backs of gig economy workers who offer the use of their time, labor, and assets. The result has been limited risks and externalities for Airbnb and companies like it since they do not own the assets that make their business possible and do not employ the people whose time and labor they benefit from.
The fundamental difference between the platform cooperative model vs Airbnb’s
By contrast, platform cooperatives are owned and operated by those same people. This is the most fundamental difference between the platform cooperative model and Airbnb’s attempt to offer back some of the proceeds of its vast empire to some – not all – of its hosts.
Airbnb’s attempt to offer equity to some of its hosts is commendable inasmuch as the hospitality company is attempting to share more of its wealth. However, the platform cooperative model of democratic control and collective ownership is profoundly different.
Stocksy website | https://www.stocksy.com/ |