Are.na is an online platform for connecting ideas and building knowledge.
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I would like for Are.na to develop a member-ownership and governance strategy that is both meaningful to the people who use the platform and advantageous to the team building the product. This should feel like a natural progression of Are.na's development to date, and a way to follow through on its values. It should also feel like a "value add" which supports revenue growth and better operations, not an obstacle to Are.na's financial success. In this cohort experience it would be great to develop a solid intuition about what tools we can use to make this a reality: what operational structures make sense, what narratives resonate, what corporate form allows us the right mix of democracy and flexibility, what financing options are available. If we could lay out a rough roadmap including these pieces, even if they don't represent literal steps, that would feel like a success.
Time in operation
I would like to develop a rough idea of which tools we could use. It would be great to narrow down the range of preferable corporate forms, develop a sense of how governance can work (whether democratic or between multiple steward groups), and understand what future financing options are available. Finally it would be great to work on bringing these different threads together into a narrative about why and how we are making an E2C transition.
E2C journey so far
One thing we've learned (especially through crowdfunding) is how important it to have and keep developing a core narrative. Not just a set of values, but a story about why we exist. We've adapted this story to different financial realities, business pivots, and news cycles. Since Are.na has been "early stage" for over 7 years, I think we also have an understanding of how long certain things can take when you're working with not a lot of funding. We've done a lot of difficult prioritizing over the years and learned from both good and bad decisions. I think we've also learned how to interact with our members aka "users" in a way that is respectful and mutually beneficial -- in product design, communications, support, and so on. Are.na has a very hands-off approach baked into the product, so a lot of this (in recent years especially) has been about knowing to making mistakes that would violate trust or kill the vibe.
E2C journey ahead
I am very interested in multi-stakeholder governance structures and the legal / operational scaffolds they require. Do I want to form a coop because I romanticize the idea or is it actually a feasible structure for Are.na? Would a multi-stakeholder form of steward ownership, involving a trust or golden share system, be better suited to our needs? What are the downstream financial impacts of these decisions, and how can we raise capital from within and beyond our communities?