Here’s how co-operatives are making a comeback

Platform Co-Ops Are Tackling the Uphill Battle for Fairness

Why It Matters

The benefits of platforms such as Uber and Airbnb are clear, but people are becoming aware of the downside. Platforms are making work more precarious and the sharing economy has been co-opted by investors seeking massive returns. In response, the old co-operative approach (one that Canada knows well) applied to platforms is emerging as an alternative.  

A few years ago, the Calgary-based photography platform, iStockPhoto.com, was sold to Getty Images for 50 million dollars. iStock was a stock photographer community that sold low cost stock images with modest payouts to photographers. After the sale, those payouts were cut to pennies on the dollar in order to get a return on Getty’s investment.

Brianna Wetlauffer, a former community manager for iStock was appalled by what transpired. As a photographer, she knew the community was being hurt and disrespected by this investor-driven decision. Luckily, Wettlauffer is also an entrepreneur. She sought a way to compete with the stock image giants that would respect the contributing photographers in the community she once managed. What she found was a new way to use the age old co-operative business model. Along with a group of former iStock employees, she ended up founding a platfor

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