Loomio
Fri 2 Mar 2018

Do we still want to attempt to buy Twitter

WC
William Cerf Public Seen by 486

TWTR is now trading at $32.28/share which is a lot better than the $12/share I paid last year. I think this may put management in a better position to kill our proposal. What do others think?

JM

James McRitchie Fri 2 Mar 2018

Yes, agreed. Perhaps a better strategy is to get them to convert to a benefit corporation https://www.corpgov.net/2018/02/benefit-corporation-accountability-matters/

James McRitchieShareholder AdvocateCorporate Governancehttp://www.corpgov.net9295 Yorkship CourtElk Grove, CA 95758916.869.2402

ES

Eugenia Siapera Fri 2 Mar 2018

As long as Twitter is generating profit for shareholders there will be little incentive for change. I think the #buyTwitter initiative has been extremely valuable in pushing for more user involvement in social media platforms at all levels, and I would love this to continue, because at the very least it is raising awareness and leads to new learning as to what kind of bottom up interventions are possible in the corporate world. Many thanks James for introducing me to the idea of 'benefit corporation', I will look into it.

RD

Rosen Dimov Fri 2 Mar 2018

Dear William, James, Eugenia and fellows, I believe we should continue with our efforts in demcoratizing Twitter and #BuyTwitter, whether successful or not, has the potential to inspire users of all digital platforms to empower themselves and take over! I remain committed to working with you all in drafting a strong proposal for Twitter's May AGM that reflects on the market developments referred to by William, and 'a benefit corporation' model suggested by James may be a good alternative. Furthermore, I will do my best to mobilise the community of the International Young Professionals Foundation that I lead as their elected President in this struggle.

JM

James McRitchie Fri 2 Mar 2018

Rosen, it is months too late to submit a proposal for this year. I was hoping there would be a group willing to work with Twitter on a Users Group as an interim step but it doesn't appear there is a viable group willing to put in the work yet. We can still come back next December with a proposal to study co-op and benefit structures.

MC

Matthew Cropp Fri 2 Mar 2018

My headspace on this front has been mostly in the alternative-institution building side of things, getting the social.coop Mastodon instance built up as a proof-of-concept and alternative. It's grown and evolved quite a bit since we launched in the run-up to the #buytwitter vote, and is now home to home to 825 co-op enthusiasts who've tooted 51,696 times. So, for those interested in directly experimenting with platform co-op social media, come play!

That said, I'd definitely be game to signal boost any renewed effort, as the campaign was a powerful tool for broadening awareness of the platform co-op model.

I think we should be thinking about co-op conversion capital strategies generally so that, if we hit a crash moment, we might be in a position to scoop up and mutualize some platform infrastructure at fire-sale prices. We got a little start on that with the platform co-op investment club spin-off project, but the momentum of that has been side-lined by the place-based investment club network-building work for the moment. The hope, though, is that we will build a platform for starting and easily managing such investment clubs in the coming year, so, once that is in place, I think the time will be ripe for revisiting the PCIC project...

WC

William Cerf Sat 3 Mar 2018

Thank you, James, Eugenia, Rosen, and Matthew for your wonderful comments. Piggybacking in Rosen's first comment. We might want to look at the B Corporation http://www.bcorporation.net/ James, do you mean that we need to start working on our proposal in December 2018 for submission in January 2019 or that we need to wait until December, 2019 and submit in January 2020?

I am the proud owner if eight (8) shares of Twitter. I'd love to collaborate to form an investment club for tiny small-scale non-accredited investors like me. Currently I'm using the Robinhood app. Matthew, what is the PCIC project?

JM

James McRitchie Sat 3 Mar 2018

Proposals were due December 8, 2017 for the 2018 meeting. It is not too early to start thinking now about what to submit next December. I did not submit a proposal for this year because I wanted a proposal for Twitter to move from using options to incentivize employees to using restricted stock (making them owners) and to facilitate forming a User's Group. These seem like positive interim steps that would make Twitter at least slightly more democratic. That approach didn't get much traction with this group, so I discussed with Twitter but did not submit a proposal for this year. I would still like to see a users group but I don't have time myself to help coordinate, so will probably file a proposal next December similar to what I filed in 2016 but to include studying benefit corporations and B-corps.

JC

Jay Cumberland Sat 3 Mar 2018

If we're talking about benefit corporations now, I think we should take into account that a large company like Twitter is extremely unlikely to convert to a benefit corporation. If they converted to a California benefit corporation (a pretty representative one), they would open themselves up to far too much liability from shareholder lawsuits and potentially even third-party lawsuits and it would likely be far too difficult for officers to figure out how to operate. The only options really on the table for converting are the Delaware Public Benefit Corporation (it's not really a B corporation) or the California Social Purpose Corporation. Both of these are designed mainly to allow large companies to do exactly what we want Twitter to do: become something better for the world. Neither of these statutes make the company have a general public benefit. Rather, they make the company focus on one or more specific social purposes (e.g. employees, the environment, etc) in addition to focusing on shareholder value. It seems like a small difference, but it's really huge. It means far less impact, but makes these far more attractive to companies looking to convert. Instead of increasing liability, they decrease it. However, they lend themselves more to green-washing concerns than do actual benefit corporations.

JM

James McRitchie Sun 4 Mar 2018

Jay - helpful. Perhaps their social purpose would be something like "encourage more healthy debate, conversations, and critical thinking." Values page says, "We believe in free expression and think every voice has the power to impact the world." See post on my blog - Benefit Corporation: Accountability Matters https://www.corpgov.net/2018/02/benefit-corporation-accountability-matters/

CC

Chris Cook Sun 4 Mar 2018

My proposal would be an 'adjacent possible' to an ICO, which is a form of finance capital other than conventional debt and equity.

Rather than issuing Coins as (intrinsically worthless) proofs of PAST value transfer/energy use $ denominated TwitCoins (to coin a phrase) would be returnable in payment for the future utility of Twitter services (where IMHO Twitter have hardly even scratched the surface). ie TwitCoins-as-Credits rather than TwitCoins-as-Proofs

A proportion of Twitter gross revenues would then be dedicated within a suitable associative revenue sharing agreement to cancelling returned TwitCoins.

TwitCoins could then also be used to reward staff/management instead of the current conflicted and complex arrangements.

JM

James McRitchie Sun 4 Mar 2018

Not sure why stock ownership should be considered "conflicted." Employees who are also owners are more motivated. Combined with increased ability to participate in meaningful decisions, companies with employee ownership show substantially higher growth and profitability rates.

CC

Chris Cook Sun 4 Mar 2018

To a stock holder, everyone - staff, management, supplier, debt financier - is a cost, and a counterparty to be contracted with in an adversarially negotiated contract.

While employee stock ownership is certainly an advance on stock-holders with a purely financial interest, virtually all of the other conflicts remain.

As a matter of historical interest,the TwitCoin instruments I describe are in fact identical to the original form of stock, which predates modern finance capital by at least five centuries and consisted of promises/credits issued by people individually or collectively. Such promises/credits were typically issued at a discount in exchange for value provided by the acceptor/investor and were returnable (in addition to conventional payment) in payment for goods & services provided by the promissor.

The expression 'rate of return' derives from the rate over time at which promises/credits are returnable to the promissor in payment for value supplied, and the word 'stock' (from which 'Loan Stock' and 'Joint/Common Stock' sprang) was the name of the half of a split tally stick accounting record which was held by the acceptor.

In other words the use of TwitCoins as promises of future utility - rather than current (intrinsically worthless) proofs of past utility - offer a simple but radical funding option which is complementary to existing equity & debt, whoever owns it.

MB

Manuela Bosch Sun 4 Mar 2018

I still want to help to change twitter into a purpose driven organization and in that way

(1) democratize a mainstream social media channel

(2) demonstrate that a coop model (governance by purpose and people vs. mere profits) is not only better for society, but also makes economically sense and
(3) have a platform coop success story that is relevant beyond our bubble

I believe we have enough knowledge, resources and skills available in this group, to take significant steps into that direction. There are really good people on board here.

I think it helps to become more clear on who we are, what we want and what’s the best strategy to get there.

OS

Oli SB Thu 8 Mar 2018

I love the enthusiasm here and respect all the work and thinking that has gone into this to date - converting a company like Twitter to become a more purpose driven / ethical / potentially member owned org is a valiant mission. But let's be pragmatic - what are the odds it will ever happen? Why, in this current neocon world we live in, would the powers that control and own Twitter effectively give up their power, control, and investments? Because they "should"!? There's not much chance of that. I would like to humbly propose that the time spent discussing Twitter and any future effort would be entirely better spent starting new cooperatives, or joining forces with existing cooperatives. I could be wrong, but that is how it seems from here - good luck and all the best - and if any of you are in the UK in July please do come and "meet the others"... https://open.coop/2018/03/08/find-others-open2018/

MB

Manuela Bosch Fri 9 Mar 2018

Interesting conversation - working on „the alternative“ or changing status quo? I believe it is not enough to only focus on building alternatives, even though this is my main focus, too.

I think, the societal and environmental damage shareholder driven cooperations cause is too high to turn away. I don’t wanna fight them tough, I want to find ways to work together with them.

There are so many ways to help an organization change towards a more collaborative model, step by step. And with market pressure and current trends, I believe more and more managers in companies need to be open to creative solutions.

Well, in our case, we would need solid convincing arguments, clever communication and the luck to talk to the right people at the right time.

I am also not so sure if it’s the right playground here. Depends on i.e. the alignment and capacity of this group, and probably more.

JM

James McRitchie Wed 28 Mar 2018

Not just Twitter. Zuckerberg needs new model of #ownership & #corpgov @ Facebook $FB. Nathan Schneider, recommends a federated social network or direct user-ownership. We need a participatory social utility, not democratic-free #corpgov https://www.corpgov.net/2018/03/mark-zuckerberg-give-up-facebook-control/ … #ESG #CSR #SRI