January 11th, 2020 15:47

Wobbly: Virtual Global Coop Incorporation?

John Evans
John Evans Public Seen by 152

Hello there! I'm John from Wobbly, an open-source messaging app for unionising workers (and hopefully cooperatising some businesses).

We currently use platform6 to host our opencollective, where we collect donations to pay our (currently quite limited) infrastructure fees.

We're looking at incorporating in order to get grant funding and publish our app on stores (apple requires a legal org). I've used coopsUK in the past to incorporate a coop. Today I went through their select-a-structure tool and was recommended a private company limited by guarantee to host Wobbly.

I've talked with Leo a bit, and understand that p6 might be able to help with the incorporation process? As far as I understand it the main task is to write a set of articles for the rules, and to have a physical location to attach to the organisation on companies house.

Can I schedule a call or something to get more information?


Graham January 14th, 2020 14:52

Hi John. Apologies for slow response. I'm sure we'd be keen to assist where we can. Both @Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) and @Austen Cordasco on our board have deep expertise on legal structures and options, and there will be others here in the P6 community who have lots of knowledge on this stuff. As far as I know the company limited by guarantee option is good cos it's lightweight and low cost, and can work well for a worker co-op type org. What's the expectation in terms of Wobbly - is it planned to be worker controlled, or are you thinking more of a platform co-op type of approach where users or other stakeholders (TUs perhaps) might also be co-op members?

John Evans

John Evans January 19th, 2020 13:41

Worker controlled initially but with the flexibility to add new member classes over time

Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts)

Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts) January 19th, 2020 14:01

Hi John, sounds like a CLG is appropriate unless you need to raise equity from members? Coops UK has downloadable model articles and rules for different typologies of coop, easily amendable in most respects for futureproofing. Their worker coop CLG model is basically an employee coop but you can flex it to include self-employed and volunteer worker members. I attach the basic model template. It talks about traditional meetings, Directors, AGMs and voting but you can flex the interpretation of that, too, to facilitate an element of asynchronous decision making (e.g. three week long meetings in Loomio!), consensus, sociocracy etc. I’ll be glad to advise further,

John Evans

John Evans January 19th, 2020 14:13

Thank you very much, I'll look over this!

Austen Cordasco

Austen Cordasco January 21st, 2020 10:47

Alternatively, you could incorporate as a registered society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. The registrar is the Financial Conduct Authority (for historical reasons) rather than Companies House and as such gives greater protection against future generations of Members converting it to a vehicle for personal enrichment. Directors and Members still get Limited Liability but the governing document is referred to as the Rules rather than the Articles of Incorporation. You could register as a Workers' Co-op and convert to a Multi-stakeholder Co-op (by replacing the entire rule set) or you could start as a Multi-stakeholder Co-op if you know what categories of membership you are going to need. Model Rules attached.

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture)

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) January 23rd, 2020 13:13

Hi John. Are you speaking to anyone at IWW as I'm aware messaging/comms is an ongoing issue. Potential customer

John Evans

John Evans January 25th, 2020 15:12

Yes we have a few contacts there. The most involved is Pete Davies, who's the chair of the organising department, I believe.