Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What legal form should we chose for our venture?

This question was in our minds since the beginning, but now it's time to make a decision. In preparation for this event I tried familiarize my partners with the open enterprise concept and to harmonize our ideas on value exchange. I did my best to explain to my partners that the world is changing, that we need to use the new technology to its full potential, that today being open and transparent makes economical sense. We also discussed about the culture of open collaboration and we experimented with some tools we would need to support a large collaborative group. Despite all this preparation, when time came to decide on a legal form for our enterprise my partners unanimously voted for the f... corporation!

I obviously objected. Luckily I am the technical person behind our prototype, otherwise my opinion would not even count. So we went back to the drawing board. But in retrospective I tried to understand their reactions. My understanding is that my partners are somewhat accepting the idea that the world is changing in a fundamental way, but they think that it is going to take a very long time, and that the conditions which would make an open enterprise thrive are not there yet. My partners look at our prototype, they see value in it, and in a very pragmatic manner they decide that the best way to turn our know how into wealth is by forming a corporation, is by going the classic way, a way that is proven to work and that will continue to work for a long time to come, in their opinion. In other words, I think my partners want to make money and they think that they are taking an unnecessary risk if they embark on a venture that they do not understand.

I also tried to sell them the joy and the excitement of writing history by implementing a successful open enterprise. I tried to show them all the good that will come out of decentralization and of putting the power back into the hands of the creator/producer. It seams that non of that worked, which means that the current system still sends powerful signals and incentives to individuals to conform with it, even though people understand that something big is about to happen, even though they are convinced that the system is economically and morally bankrupt and it is in fact doomed.

I do not want to abuse of my privileged position within the group and to impose my will. I simply told them that the founder of Multitude Project CANNOT run a corporation. I tried to make them understand that this choice is beyond my limits. One of my partners resigned over my reaction. We are back to 3 members now, getting ready for another meeting in a few hours where we'll try to reach another agreement.     

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