Friday, November 18, 2016

A global software users' co-op could #BuyTwitter

Nathan Schneider's September 29 article in The Guardian has sparked an enthusiastic movement to change Twitter from a corporation into a co-op; or if not Twitter itself, then "co-owning a major platform utility" – see campaign page. Campaign supporters are concerned that Twitter's perennial lack of profitability and declining stock price may lead to it being acquired, followed by cost cutting and revenue boosting measures that could undermine its considerable public benefits.

I'd like to share some ideas with the #BuyTwitter movement. I'm a semi-retired financial economist working on democratic reform of corporations, governments and co-ops (

Below is an outline for building a global software users' co-op that can finance its own growth, to the point where it can either buy Twitter or fund a substitute and attract enough users. The strategy has 5 key components:
1. Ownership structure: Retail consumers' co-op.

2. Bundling of users: Use large group purchases to get better deals. All co-op members can use all software licenses purchased.

3. Bundling of software: Each member pays the same low fixed monthly user fee, e.g. $5. Co-op buys rights to use various software that members value: low-priced or freemium software/services like password manager, anti-virus; info like; discounts etc.

4. Buy from market-share challengers, not leaders. Challengers will charge bundled users much less than market-share leaders would.

5. Members vote to allocate pooled funds among competing software channels. This system has been developed and tested for providing coverage of student union elections at the University of British Columbia.
Details are in the paper Global Software Users' Co-op at

Monday, October 17, 2016

Why I'm Voting NO on Coast Capital Savings Proposal to Go National

Coast Capital Savings is proposing to become a federal credit union. We members can vote from today through November 28, on paper ballots we receive in the mail, or by logging in at

I'm voting NO because the board's past behaviour gives me no confidence that they are acting in members' best interests. For example:

- Overpaying itself with members' funds – see:

- Confusing members with one-sided campaigns against members' resolutions – see:

The dangers of going national are well described at:

Thursday, September 22, 2016

CIRA Board Election: Who I'm voting for & why

Voting just started today in the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) board election. I currently plan to vote for these candidates:
Members' Slate:
- Frank Michlick

Nomination Committee Slate:
- Lee Dale
- Rowena Liang
- my third choice not decided yet
All candidates' info is linked from this CIRA page. Voting ends next Thursday (Sept 29) at noon Pacific time. I will update this post if I change my choices. If you're a CIRA member, you should receive an email from CIRA today with a link to their voting page.

As when I posted on last year's election: "My research is not very deep, but there seems to be a lack of candidate assessments available online, so I'm trying to help fill that gap."

This year, my voting is based mainly on the online Campaign Forum, where some important issues were debated. I think accountability of the board to the membership and to the Canadian internet community is crucial, so I paid close attention to these two threads:

- CIRA as a Membership Based Organization

- Changing CIRA's Board Selection Process

I welcome your comments, advice, info etc!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

CIRA Election Forum

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) is holding its annual board election. In the election campaign's online forum, there's an interesting thread on CIRA as a Membership Based Organization. Yesterday I posted a comment there; I'm reposting it below (with better links) followed by some further thoughts. So although the election forum will be closed to comments after tomorrow noon (Eastern Time) when voting starts, we can continue discussing here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

How Canada Can Support Serious Journalism

Today I submitted this 3-page comment letter [updated version 2016-10-04] with a policy proposal to let Canadian voters allocate public funding to competing journalist teams. This would support more public interest journalism such as election coverage and watching out for corruption in government. I recommend testing it in municipal politics before implementing it nationally. Canada's federal government has commissioned a study and report on this topic from the Public Policy Forum.

It's not that people don't understand the need for [public interest journalism]. We just need an incentive-compatible way to pay for it.

Relevant links: