Investor Owned vs. User Owned Platforms

Traditional startup roadmap

Investor ownership is the default for technology companies and startups. Typically, founders go from owning 100% of a company, to gradually selling more and more in sequential fundraising rounds. Often, investors will purchase 20-30% of a company in each round of funding. After several rounds of funding, investors are likely to own a vast majority of the business, many times over 80%.

It may look something like this.


Company raises a seed round by offering investment notes that convert to 10-15% ownership of the company.

Series A:

Company raises 18 months of runway by selling another 20% of ownership to a collection of VC firms.

Series B:

Company repeats cycle.

Series C, D, E (and beyond):

An alternative: User-owned platforms

There is an alternative. It may not be customary in Silicon Valley, but it’s possible to have platforms owned 100% by their users. How? 

1. Cooperative ownership: 

  • Organization incorporated as a cooperative
  • Fully member-owned 
  • Not created for an exit opportunity for investors
  • 1 person 1 vote governance, not power weighted by stake

2. Labor organization:

  • Organization and product built by users
  • People contributing towards a shared vision
  • Reliance on production capital, rather than financial capital
Profit sharing at Ampled

Investor ownership vs. user ownership

Here are what these differences look like:

Investor OwnedUser Owned
Valueextracted from userscaptured by users
Economic Rewardsconcentrated to fewshared by many
Motivationfinancial maximizationservice to members
Revenue Modelrent-seeking platform feecommons contribution
Goalexit event (transactional value)sustainable independence (use case value)
Decision Makingautocraticdemocratic

Would you rather be a user or an owner?

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