Loomio
Fri 24 Mar 2017

#BuyTwitter is going up for a vote – help us win!

DS
Danny Spitzberg Public Seen by 517

Great news, birdies:

Thanks to you, Twitter has a chance to become a user-owned co-op. Imagine if the "people's news network" was democratically owned!

In April and May, Twitter shareholders will be voting on our resolution: to study the advantages of converting to democratic ownership. They’ll call the vote at the annual meeting at Twitter HQ, on May 24th or 25th. Most votes will made via proxy, especially for shareholders that have a large amount of stock in Twitter. Ideally, we win with 51% or more of the vote – and if we want to learn from this process and make a stronger proposal for 2018, we need at least 3%!

If we win this vote, Twitter will commission a report to consider a transition to a more equitable kind of shared ownership, something like the models that have made the Green Bay Packers, REI, and the Associated Press so popular, profitable, and trustworthy. Better information means better business decisions for shareholders.

Our small group of volunteer organizers has come a long way to get here. Our strategy for winning this vote is to run an awareness campaign. We’ll focus on a few big shareholders like the California pension fund, which value democratic ownership.

Want to help us win? Here’s how to get involved:

1) Follow https://twitter.com/BuyThisPlatform
2) Tweet your vision for a user-owned Twitter using #WeAreTwitter #BuyTwitter
2) Become a shareholder! You can attend the annual meeting at Twitter HQ, and vote! Buy a share of Twitter stock from a stockbroker, or take 5 minutes on https://robinhood.com or https://loyal3.com. Note: the deadline to buy stock and be counted as a shareholder is March 30th.

Want to get more involved? That’s great! This campaign goes live on Monday, April 10th. We need help building a new website, writing fresh analysis supporting our proposal, and getting featured in press and media. Please join our organizing group for a call on Wednesday, March 29th at 10am Pacific Time – RSVP at https://goo.gl/forms/36Bewf2Y64Wm2Wux2.

Excited? Have questions? Comment below, or email info@wearetwitter.global.

This small group of volunteer organizers has come a long way to get here. Thank you again for helping us get this far.

Onward!

D

Devin Fri 24 Mar 2017

Great to see this moving forward. I just bought 6 shares for under $100!

ES

Eugenia Siapera Fri 24 Mar 2017

Great news Danny! Can I share your message on Facebook?

DS

Danny Spitzberg Fri 24 Mar 2017

@eugeniasiapera as soon as we get the URL for the updated petition : )

For now, please RT https://twitter.com/BuyThisPlatform/status/845417588125458433 !!

TAM

Timothy A McDonald Sat 25 Mar 2017

This is fantastic news. Been a shareholder since their IPO.

CC

Chris Cook Sat 25 Mar 2017

I don't think this proposal goes far enough. Twitter owned by its users would be an advance on Twitter owned by pure rent-seekers but it's only a step in the right direction.

Ownership by users leaves all other stakeholders as 'costs' to be excluded in the usual 'least $ cost' way and also typically leads to the organisation being run for the benefit of management.

I believe Twitter can and should be co-owned by the staff & management who provide the Twitter platform and made it what it is.

Personally, I'd rather see a staff/management buyout FUNDED by Twitter users, and the development of a Platform Cooperative which is essentially a partnership between a cooperative of Twitter platform users and a Twitter platform service providers/developers.

I think that a proposal for a user funded management/staff Twitter buyout would have an infinitely greater chance of success, particularly when you consider the share ownership of current and past management & stiaff

DS

Danny Spitzberg Sat 25 Mar 2017

So, in other words, a multi-stakeholder co-op? With different ownership classes? Like, http://stocksy.com?

NS

Nathan Schneider Sat 25 Mar 2017

I disagree with the focus on employees here. Twitter employees are a small segment of the broad public whom the platform impacts; they are also high-skilled, well-compensated professionals—much more so than the average user. Many of them are likely shareholders already. I certainly think a multi-stakeholder model would be fine, but to me the primary ambition is to secure public, user control over a platform that is essentially a public media utility, to ensure that the platform is accountable to the public it serves. Requiring people to meet the requirements of Twitter employment in order to have a say over the platform is, I think, an inappropriately high bar. User ownership seems to me much more appropriate, both from a business and ethical point of view.

CC

Chris Cook Sat 25 Mar 2017

Hi Nathan

The two are not mutually exclusive.

In ny view, Shareholders and the sharing economy are fundamentally incompatible and the joint stock company (Corporation) is unsuitable as a vehicle for a utility whether genetically modified as a Coop or not.

ie shareholders don't share.

I agree completely that the users should have the right of ultimate veto but I believe that there are frameworks (eg a revenue sharing LLC ) whereby a Cooperative of users may genuinely align interests with a cooperative of staff & staff & management.

Getting there from here is the interesting part but with all due respect I think co-ownership will be superior in outcome to user ownership.

Best regards

Chris

DS

Danny Spitzberg Sun 26 Mar 2017

Yet another commentary on what kind of model might work best for #BuyTwitter: a law student at NYU says, a B-Corp. See https://twitter.com/NYUJLB/status/844580642725744641

JR

John Richmond Sun 26 Mar 2017

Hi Folks! I think a B-corps like we have in Canada - for example Beaus Brewery in Ottawa - can be superior to corporate ownership but nothing beats a cooperative - when done right. I like the co-ownership model (again, when it works) because so many workplaces underutilize workplace skills and knowledge in subservience to "higher" shareholder or bucreaucratic objectives (often both). Perhaps for a large membership we users would need a users council or union.

Speaking as both member and former board member of a large credit union one problem large co-ops have in Anglo countries is zero communication between members and the people who represent them. For co-ownership to work us the users it would require robust communication between users and representatives. Cheers! (for co-op beers) . BBe

D

Devin Sun 26 Mar 2017

I agree with Chris Cook that this endeavour would be much more likely to get serious consideration from the press and Twitter community if it were being led in partnership with Twitter employees. Maintaining a platform like Twitter is no small feat and building a business model that can sustain the platform over the long term in the highly competitive social media landscape is a complex undertaking that could only be plausibly executed by people with deep knowledge of Twitter's operations. Ignoring these practicalities will make this effort look naive to the press, Twitter's users, shareholder and employees IMHO.

MC

Matthew Cropp Mon 27 Mar 2017

So, if Twitter were to be a multi-stakeholder co-op, what would be the optimal worker consumer ownership split? 50/50? Something else?

Or could it make sense to split the business into a worker and a consumer co-op with a strong contractual relationship. The consumers own their data, and hire a worker co-op to maintain and improve the infrastructure on which they deploy said data. The old '70s-era food co-ops used to functionally work that way. An assembly of household cluster reps would meet with the worker's collective on pick-up day each month to make decisions.

DU

[deactivated account] Mon 27 Mar 2017

My understanding of B-Corps was that they were a certification body, but not in themselves a business model, ie. not a model for incorporation. So we could be a co-op that is also a certified B-Corp. As for multi-stakeholder cooperative structure, i see this as necessary. With a member class for consumers, workers, and then probably at least one additional class for investors.

CC

Chris Cook Mon 27 Mar 2017

I advocate a complementary & participative approach through the use of a US LLC framework.

Rather than raising an enormous amount of dollars to buy out existing shareholders (ie Buying Twitter) the existing Twitter Inc would be absorbed into an LLC vehicle which will transform legacy Twitter Inc into a sustainable Twitter Utility.

Phase One - Resolution LLC (Caterpillar)

  • BuyTwitter sets up Twitter LLC and Twitter Coop

  • Twitter Inc and Twitter Coop become Twitter LLC Founder Members.

  • some or all existing managers & staff transfer to Twitter Coop

  • existing Twitter Inc revenues allocated proportionally between Twitter Inc and Twitter Coop

Phase Two - Transition LLC (Chrysalis)

  • new Twitter strategy & business model developed by Twitter Coop and agreed by Twitter Inc.

  • Twitter Coop members receive basic reasonable remuneration plus agreed % share of surplus value created.

  • Active (risk-friendly) investors invited as Investor Members to cover this remuneration and other implementation costs in exchange for a % share of surplus value created.

Phase Three - Utility LLC (Butterfly)

  • Twitter Utility has a long term sustainable utility return.

  • Long term passive (risk averse) investment by new LLC Investor members directly in Twitter utility revenues.

  • Passive investment enables all legacy Twitter Inc investors and transitional development investment to obtain an optimal outcome.

NS

Nathan Schneider Mon 27 Mar 2017

Just to be clear here, the proposal we're offering here is not to define a transition for Twitter, but to encouage the company to merely study the options.

MC

Matthew Cropp Mon 27 Mar 2017

Good point, @ntnsndr - carts and horses and such... ;)

In any case, I just bought my 1 share of Twitter before the 3/30 deadline so I can participate however minutely in the vote... :)

DS

Danny Spitzberg Tue 28 Mar 2017

Friends, this is a friendly reminder about our organizing call tomorrow – Wednesday, March 29th at 10am Pacific Time.

If you want to get more involved, please RSVP at https://goo.gl/forms/36Bewf2Y64Wm2Wux2

We hope that long-time volunteers who have more context and hold more vision can join us!

AT

Antonis Triantafyllakis Wed 29 Mar 2017

Is there a way similar to robinhood and loyal3 to buy shares from Europe?

CEA

Camille Emefa Acey Wed 29 Mar 2017

Great! I just bought stock to support the cause!

DS

Danny Spitzberg started a proposal Fri 31 Mar 2017

Do something you love with #BuyTwitter Closed Sun 2 Apr 2017

Outcome
by Danny Spitzberg Tue 25 Apr 2017

It's been a terrible 24 hours for news, from Syria to the US Supreme Court. But yesterday morning, Twitter co-founder Ev Williams announced on Medium that even after selling some shares, he'll still own 3% of the company.

What next on this thread? Well, now that #BuyTwitter is going up for a vote, our strategy is to find major shareholders to declare they'll vote Yes. If a major shareholder like Ev publicly considers voting Yes to #BuyTwitter, we'll win news headlines – and maybe, win the vote.

🐣 Here's one more outcome: please retweet this three-part tweet @ev https://twitter.com/BuyThisPlatform/status/850349095914840065 (Amazingly, this tweet is currently sitting at the top of search results for $TWTR)

Next up, we need help finding more major shareholders to reach. Please comment below if you or someone you know can help identify targets and connections.

If you've been waiting to get involved in #BuyTwitter, no time like the present. I propose everyone does something we love that helps bring #BuyTwitter to life.

Want the short version? Here you go:

Read about how you get collaborate in this form https://goo.gl/TOjzA8, fill in your info, and Agree, Disagree, or Abstain... or block. This is less than perfect, I know, but hopefully it inspires a few of the 181 organizers here (maybe, you?)!

Want more details? Read on:

1) Notes from our call

We proposed that Twitter explore how it might convert into a user-owned co-op. Voting begins in April and end at the end of May, during the general meeting at Twitter HQ. We need at least 3% of Twitter shareholders to vote Yes. During our call, we reviewed this basic info, the Twitter shareholders we'll target, and the strategies we'll use to reach them. We talked about what could go wrong, and how to overcome those risks. We also shared what we feel is most important for each of us to do, outlined five areas for collaboration, and followed each other on Twitter.

2) What comes next

We're launching our new campaign on April 10! We could really use your help with writing, web design, social media, or anything else you do well and enjoy doing.

Take 2 minutes to see what we're working on and sign up in this form: https://goo.gl/TOjzA8

We'll start making things happen over the weekend, and we'll have another call next Wednesday to support each other. And please share this invite and tweet with people you believe should be included or represented in this campaign, too.

Thank you again for helping bring #BuyTwitter to life. Comment below if you have any questions!

Results
Agree - 7
Abstain - 7
Disagree - 7
Block - 7
8 people have voted (3%)
DS

Danny Spitzberg Fri 31 Mar 2017

I was wondering that! Maybe @acyment found an option?

AS

Alvaro Solache
Agree
Fri 31 Mar 2017

Kmoon

DS

Danny Spitzberg
Agree
Fri 31 Mar 2017

I'm in it to win it ^

HR

Hélène Ramajo
Agree
Sat 1 Apr 2017

WC

William Cerf
Agree
Sun 2 Apr 2017

I'm thrilled to see us moving forward.

CC

Chris Cook Sun 2 Apr 2017

I was travelling and unable to participate in the recent conversation. I feel strongly enough about the proposal as drafted to have Blocked it (never done that before - there's always a first time)

I feel strongly that to specify 'User-owned' is unnecessary and rules out ab initio other forms of Co-op such as a Platform Cooperative co-owned by users and other stakeholders such as staff and management in particular.

Experience of sizeable user-owned Co-ops in the UK - particularly in recent years - has been negative, in that they invariably become corporate in behaviour (eg in treatment of staff) and run for the benefit of management, privatised or worse. cf Coop Bank.

So I would be happy to support this proposal if the phrase 'user-owned' is deleted because its use closes off Co-op options which IMHO could be left open and explored at no cost to the proposal.

CC

Chris Cook
Block
Sun 2 Apr 2017

If the phrase 'user-owned' is deleted I will support the proposal. There is simply no need to specify the type of Co-op at this point and to do so unnecessarily closes off options.

TAM

Timothy A McDonald
Agree
Sun 2 Apr 2017

DS

Danny Spitzberg Sun 2 Apr 2017

Thanks, Chris. I appreciate the concern.

Good news: The phrasing has already been changed to make the idea more open-ended, if you look at the revised petition at https://wearetwitter.global

VZ

Vanderlei Zacchi
Agree
Sun 2 Apr 2017

NS

Nathan Schneider Sun 2 Apr 2017

@chriscook1 @timothyamcdonald I would just note that this proposal is quite open-ended, and it doesn't preclude employee ownership as part of the mix. In a document we're preparing for shareholders, we encourage considering employee owners as part of the process.

However, Twitter generally has a well-compensated, highly skilled workforce who have not so far expressed grievances about a potential sale, as users have. The company also has the data of hundreds of millions of users who have no say in the fate of that data. Users also represent a capitalization opportunitiy (which is crucial for making the case to shareholders), while the employee pool is likely not large enough to do so. I think it's strategic to emphsize users in the publicity (which needs to be as simple and direct as possible, appealing to the broadest number of people), but in the details to make sure that employees are part of the conversation as well.

In the event that this isn't satisfying to you, @chriscook1, can you specify what you intend with your block? That nobody in this group should be participating in supporting the current shareholder proposal? A block is obviously very serious, and so it's crucial that we understand what your intention is, given the ongoing progress and process of this campaign, rather than simply using it as a form of protest vote.

CC

Chris Cook Sun 2 Apr 2017

@ntnsndr Naturally the Twitter user base is a great place to look for investment, and I take your point about employees.

Simply put, provided it is clear that ownership will be democratic but will not be exclusive to users - which is how 'user-owned' speaks to me - I'm cool and withdraw the block.

CC

Chris Cook
Abstain
Sun 2 Apr 2017

If the phrase 'user-owned' is deleted I will support the proposal. There is simply no need to specify the type of Co-op at this point and to do so unnecessarily closes off options.

NS

Nathan Schneider Sun 2 Apr 2017

@chriscook1 the shareholder proposal has already been submitted, so it cannot be changed at this point. Further, it was not a project of this group, per se, but of individual TWTR shareholders whose efforts this group is supporting. What they submitted will appear on the ballot as is. What we can change currently are the documents we use to publicize and advocate for the proposal, and we can certainly propose multi-stakeholder structures in those.

MC

Matthew Cropp
Agree
Sun 2 Apr 2017

DU

[deactivated account] Fri 14 Apr 2017

What does everyone think about the new Mastodon network that has just hit the headlines this week?

NS

Nathan Schneider Fri 14 Apr 2017

There's actually a sub-group in our community that is working on developing social.coop as a Mastodon instance: https://www.loomio.org/g/ibncxoDR/social-coop

MC

Matthew Cropp Fri 14 Apr 2017

Really enjoying mastodon, and am involved with the project @ntnsndr mentioned above. If we win the #buytwitter vote, the design thinking going into that project can probably be excellent grist for the feasibility study. If we don't, then we have a #PlatformCoop landing pad for everyone who was inspired by the vision of a co-op Twitter and disappointed by its ownership class' priorities... :)

NS

Nathan Schneider Mon 17 Apr 2017

Agreed. I'm thrilled to see social.coop emerge as part of this effort. Depending on the outcome of the vote, we'll find a strategic way to incorporate the two.

DS

Danny Spitzberg Mon 1 May 2017

Happy May Day, birdies!

After Twitter published our proposal a couple weeks ago, #BuyTwitter got featured in dozens of articles and hundreds of tweets from an incredible range of groups – the Pirate Party, Union Square Ventures, Anonymous, and more. I'm grateful to all of you for adding to the energy and helping channel it into real outcomes: new analysis, a webinar, an FAQ for skeptics, a website, and more articles.

Now, we have 4 weeks left in our home stretch. Voting closes on May 22 at Twitter HQ. Before then, we have a lot of options to boost our chances of winning: targeting shareholders, boosting our web and social media presence, planning a Bay Area meetup, writing a coalition letter, and more.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, at 11am Pacific let's talk about how we win, and what feels most worth doing.

RSVP and add to the agenda here: https://goo.gl/forms/K39KKlWLnNNNIxcW2