Like any cooperative, a platform co-op is an enterprise jointly owned and controlled by its workers. Platform means the workers use an app or website to connect with one another and organize services for users.
Sociology doctoral student Samantha Eddy and I conducted a study of a platform cooperative in Canada called Stocksy United. It’s a stock photography company in which the contributing photographers are considered independent contractors but also own shares in the cooperative. There’s a small management team, but major decisions are voted on by the artists.
Members told us they are far happier than when they worked for the “Uber” of their industry, Getty Images, and earn much more for each photo sold. One reason for their satisfaction is that, like many platforms, Stocksy hosts a wide range of collaboration styles, from hobbyists who contribute the occasional photograph to professionals who invest large sums in shoots. This gives members the freedom that many seek from platform work.
All members get a say in the company’s governance, though in practice only a few hundred of its roughly 1,000 members are active in the company’s forums, where issues are discussed and voted on.