How We Use Blockchain To Share Company Ownership
We believe the world of work needs to change. Many of its structures and processes are old-fashioned, outdated and downright toxic. These include cumbersome decision-making, low freedom and trust, inexplicable levels of non-transparency, and a tenacious absence of purpose.
Another aspect we think is outdated is the lack of shared ownership. When demanding employers invoke staff to take more ownership, what they actually mean is: "Work harder". Real ownership is rarely on the table.
So, organizations are wondering how to make staff more connected, engaged, and committed. We’re not saying shared ownership is the ultimate solution, or the holy grail of engagement. Nor are we saying it's a solution for all organizations out there. Successful shared ownership depends on many factors: for example, the power of purpose, values, transparency and involvement.
And while giving co-workers a stake in a company is not the complete answer, it’s certainly a powerful factor: one that should be considered in the search for better workplaces.
We know because we’ve seen it in practice at pioneers all around the world: from Chinese white-goods giant progressive cooperatives.
Building the company of the future
As for us, at Corporate Rebels, we are shaping our company on the 8 trends of progressive workplaces. But this is not something that’s achieved overnight. A truly engaging and meaningful workplace means continuous experimentation.
One of our experiments is how we distribute ownership. Before we dive into that, it's important to note that we believe in designing an organization that enables people to feel entrepreneurial. Entrepreneurship is not just the role of the founders. It's a part of everyone's job. And it invites people to grow, develop and challenge themselves. Plus, it's a great way to have fun!
Because of our belief in entrepreneurship, we're running several experiments—on self-set salaries, target setting, #rebeldays, and an alternative way of distributing money.
In the future we'll talk about these experiments. But for now, let’s focus on just one: the distribution of ownership via an online platform based on blockchain technology. We now share ownership at Corporate Rebels differently.
We've moved away from the cumbersome process of going through a notary and moved to sharing ownership via an online platform that uses blockchain technology.
The blockchain hype
First, what is blockchain? There's a good chance you've heard of it. There's also a good chance you're not sure what it actually is. If you're interested, it's best to start Googling for blogs, books, and videos to increase your understanding. But if you don't have the time or interest to do so, we offer the video below as a starting point.
It shows there are many possible applications. At the same time, it's good to know that expectations (or what might be called the blockchain hype) are way higher than current practical usage. But the fact that expectations exceed current reality doesn't mean there aren't many opportunities.
One opportunity is the use of blockchain technology to cut out an expensive, bureaucratic middle man, called the notary. In order to do that, we're collaborating with a Dutch startup called Stem.
Stem is a new Security Token Blockchain platform for registering and trading private stock. It is a platform on which you can issue company stock in the form of Security Tokens, which enables exchange between employees and investors.
Stem's purpose is to change the future of capital distribution by making participation truly within everyone’s reach. Stem's motto: "This new world is coming. We’d better be prepared".
Very simply, here's how it works. Our company, Corporate Rebels, consists of multiple legal entities. One of those, Corporate Rebels Holding B.V., is currently experimenting with Stem.
Although we are still a small team, we've created the current structure to prepare for the future, as best we can. We have used our learning from Bucket List companies like platform organization. This will be an organization where people can truly be entrepreneurs within the Corporate Rebels eco-system. We foresee setting up new companies that contribute to our purpose of making work more fun.
As part of that experiment, we've added a part of our company to Stem's online platform. That means that some security tokens have been created to represent a portion of our company shares. These tokens can be exchanged via the online platform.
With the push of a button (and security verification in between) tokens can be transferred from one rebel to another. The moment they are transferred, an automatically created contract is sent to both parties and saved securely via the Stellar blockchain.
For every portfolio of tokens, you can decide the rights that go with the tokens. For example, you can determine details of decision-making, voting and sharing rights.
We don't want to bore you with technical and legal details, but for those who want to dive into more detail, check out a whitepaper on Stem.
Pushing the boundaries
The reason we work with Stem is we believe sharing ownership is an important part of a highly engaging organization. Offering a new colleague the opportunity to become a co-owner, or even an entrepreneur, shouldn't be as hard and costly as it currently is.
As we imagine the future of Corporate Rebels, we see:
- more flexibility around ownership
- spending less time and money on expensive middle men, and
- creating a company that is radically transparent to all co-workers.
We don’t just report on progressive workplaces. We push the boundaries ourselves—now and in the future.