A transparent, non-profit, and democratic company structure

As we all become increasingly reliant on social networks to share information and stay connected with one another, we believe it is of great importance that these systems remain first and foremost in service to their users. So far all the major social networks have been privately owned, opaque, for-profit companies. This means users have little say in the decisions that affect their use of the platform and miss out on all the profits their traffic produces. It also leaves these networks open to the warping influence of private interest. When the board of directors are also the shareholders, or are chosen by them in a private for-profit company, there is an inherent conflict of interest between making decisions based on maximizing profit vs. maximizing the service of the platform to its users.

Weco is an attempt at birthing something new: A fully transparent, non-profit, and democratically governed social network. We believe these aspects of our company structure will one day be the standard for social networks and will not only increase our collective intelligence as a company but also give us powerful marketing advantages against our profit driven, privately owned competitors.

We have a dedicated transparency page one click from our homepage where users can see exactly how much money the platform is producing and where that money is being redirected to. This includes everything from how much we're spending on hosting and site maintenance to the wages of the developers and founders.

Transparency, for us, is about building trust and benefiting from scrutiny. By allowing our users to see into the financial structure of the company we are both showing them we have nothing to hide and at the same time giving them the opportunity to contribute their perspective on how things could be done more efficiently.

'WE Collective' was registered as a private limited company with Companies House in the UK on the 20th of July, 2015. Our company number is 9693685. We have a single share owned by the Managing Director James Weir on which no dividends are payable.

In our companies founding documents it states that:

"3.1 No dividends may be paid on any shares."

"3.2 No part of the income or property of the Company may be transferred, directly or indirectly, by any means to any member of the Company or given or distributed to any member by any means."

"3.4 The directors have discretion to use any surplus profits not required for the ongoing activities, costs and liabilities of the Company for any purpose or purposes they consider will be of benefit to the world."

In practice any surplus profits will flow directly into a 'giving pot' visible on the homepage. Using the polling tools built into the platform, users will then get to vote each year on what good causes that money goes to, provided it is used for the benefit of others. We will follow up this spending with small video teams to document how it has been used and feedback the footage to the community so they can see the real world impact their participation in the platform is achieving.

If we reached a user base the size of Reddit's, the platform could be raising large amounts of money each year that could be redistributed around the world to support projects and causes in need, steered by the collective intelligence of our users. If a social network like ours ever scaled to the size of Facebook that could become billions each year; empowering the people of the world in ways we've never seen before.

We will use the polling tools built into the system to allow our users much more say in how the platform is governed than they would find on most other platforms. Just as societies have decided over the course of history that people should have a say in how their governments are run, we believe the same realization will soon occur in regard to social networks as a result of their increasing impact on our day to day lives. Already, in the first few decades of their existence, they have begun to powerfully define both how we connect socially and how we share information. It is no longer safe to allow decisions effecting these vital organs of society to be made privately by small groups of individuals, often who are in the position to gain privately from their decisions.

Further, if democracy is used intelligently it could open the platform up to a much wider level of collective intelligence than would be accessible to a small local group of individuals making decisions alone. A platform like Reddit has hundreds of millions of users that include extremely talented coders, lawyers, CEOs, doctors and every skill and profession imaginable. By allowing them to effectively engage in the governance process, to voice their opinions and be heard, the intelligence of the entire platform would be increased.

We realize, however, that handing back complete democratic control of the platform to our user base from day one wouldn't be possible due to a number of significant risks this would present. For this reason the founders will retain final governing control until we feel confident that we have reached the necessary infrastructure and diversity amongst our user base to ensure the safety of the democracy. The key check points in defining when the system will be ready for complete democratic governance to be handed over to the users and the details of that process can be found in our response to the question "When would full democratic governance of the platform be handed back to the users and how would this be achieved?" on our FAQ page. Throughout this interim phase the founders will engage continuously with the user base, poll opinions on all important issues, and do our best to go with the interests of the user base wherever possible.

If we are able to successfully grow our user base over the coming years, we believe that these new aspects of our company structure will increase public interest in the platform and protect us from the attacks of our profit driven competitors. We will be able to demonstrate to our users how their engagement in the site is helping the world and offer them a level of participation unmatched by other social networks. On top of this, these changes have the potential to result in a much more intelligent and resilient system overall with far greater strength and flexibility in the face of change.

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