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Q&A's

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Overview. We use this page to answer questions about the material aspects of User Co-op. Please contact us if we've missed anything you'd like to know.

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Yes. We operate day-to-day just like a regular company does with, for example, full-time employees and a board of directors that oversees them. It's the same operational structure as the large recreational equipment cooperative that inspired our member-ownership model.

Is User Co-op a regular company that's owned by members instead of shareholders?

No. Ownership rights are reserved for members, and the founder and employees are members just like everyone else. However, in lieu of equity, we offer our employees competitive cash incentives based on both individual and company performance criteria. You can access the founder's employment agreement to learn more about our general approach to compensation.

Does User Co-op grant equity to its founder and employees?

Our legal name is "User Cooperative," and we're incorporated in the State of Washington as a "miscellaneous and mutual corporation." If you'd like to verify this, you can go to Washington Corporations and Charities Filing System and, under "Corporation Search," search "User Cooperative." 

What is User Co-op's legal entity?

Billions who are dissatisfied with today's data deal. We hope to recruit as members those who are dissatisfied with today's data deal. We estimate that such dissatisfaction is globally pervasive and independent of demographics: somewhere between 75% and 90% of all tech users worldwide, which translates to somewhere between four and five billion of us.

Who are User Co-op's target members?

Some exhibits of consumer sentiment:

(a) 85% of Americans are “very/somewhat,” versus "not very/not at all," concerned about the "size and power of large technology companies." 77% say they “believe that major internet technology companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple have too much power.” 88% (of the 77%) say they have too much power because "they may misuse customers' data, and 87% (of the 77%) say they have too much power because "they possess a lot of data on people who use their websites, apps and products."  Source: Gallup-Knight, Techlash? America’s Growing Concern With Major Technology Companies, March 2020

(b) 75% of Americans and 78% of a sample of ROW believe "businesses currently benefit the most from personal data exchange," not "consumers e.g. me." Source: Data & Marketing Association, Data privacy: What the consumer really thinks, June 2018

(c) 76% of Canada, China, India, UK, and USA "call sharing personal information with companies a ‘necessary evil.’” Source: PwC Consumer Intelligence Series, Trusted Tech survey 2020 

(d) 81% of Americans believe "potential risks of companies collecting data about them outweigh the benefits.” Source: Pew, Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information, 11/15/2019

(e) 72% of Americans believe they "benefit 'none' or 'very little' from the data collected about them by companies." Source: Pew, Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information, 11/15/2019

(f) 84% of Americans and 83% of a sample of ROW say "I would like more control over the personal information I give companies and the way in which it is stored" Source: Data & Marketing Association, Data privacy: What the consumer really thinks, June 2018

(g) 91% of American "adults agree or strongly agree that consumers have lost control of how personal information is collected and used by companies.” Source: Pew, The state of privacy in post-Snowden America, 11/12/14

(h) 87% of the world says “stakeholders, not shareholders, are the most important to long-term company success." Source: 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report, January 2020

User Co-op members get:​​​

What are the powers and privileges of User Co-op members? 

(a) The power to elect the board of directors. User Co-op's board of directors manages everything User Co-op does. And each member gets one (1) vote in electing each board member, except for the CEO (currently the founder), who's a board member by virtue of the office.

(b) The power to propose and decide on any matter of business. Each member gets one (1) vote on each User Co-op business item voted on by members and the power to propose any such item.

(c) Exclusive access to User Co-op's consumer services. User Co-op's consumer services, like a web browser and a search engine, are only for members. And each member gets automatic access to User Co-op's consumer services as they go online.

(d) User Co-op's profits. User Co-op pays out its profits to members in proportion to their individual use of User Co-op's consumer services.

Other key features of membership:

(a) No expiration date. A membership only expires if a member doesn't use any of User Co-op's consumer services for three (3) years.

(b) Non-transferable. A membership can't be sold, traded, or transferred.

(c) One per person. Membership is limited to one (1) membership per natural person. 

(d) Liability shield. No member is, or will be, personally liable for any debt, obligation, or any other liability of User Co-op.

Documents that authorize members' powers and privileges: Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws

Note: User Co-op defers granting governance rights to members until it meets the conditions of its "early hostile takeover protection."

Member dividends. User Co-op pays out its profits to its members in the form of patronage dividends. They can be in cash, in kind, or both, depending on the circumstances at the time of each dividend.

How does User Co-op distribute its profit to members?

Calculation of a member's dividend. Each member's patronage dividend is equal to User Co-op's profit multiplied by the ratio of their individual use to all members' use:

Member's patronage dividend = profit x (member’s use ÷ all members’ use)

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"Profit" includes:

What is "profit" for the purpose of distributing profit to members?

(a) Earnings minus reserves. This is User Co-op's calendar-year earnings minus the cash reserves that User Co-op retains for business purposes. For this purpose, calendar-year earnings exclude member donations.

(b) Purchase price in an acquisition. This is the net consideration paid for User Co-op if it gets acquired.

(c) Net assets remaining if User Co-op dissolves. This is any money that remains in a dissolution or liquidation after User Co-op has paid its obligations.

Note: In our documentation, we refer to item (a) above as "Surplus Funds," which is defined in Article 7 of our Articles of Incorporation and, by extension, Article 5 of our Bylaws. Surplus Funds are determined by our board of directors, which our members elect. Lastly, profit isn't guaranteed, and it depends on how much our members engage in, for example, building the membership community, governing us, and using our consumer services as they come online.

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"Use" (noun) is defined in Article 9 of our Articles of Incorporation as a member's use of User Co-op's consumer services, and it's quantified as both:

What is "use" (noun) for the purpose of distributing profit to members?

(a) Outgoing service calls. This is the sum of unique member-to-service calls, like a member’s clicks, taps, and swipes on an app or website.

(b) Incoming service calls. This is the sum of unique service-to-member calls, like automatic pings to a member’s mobile device to retrieve GPS data for a navigation app.

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Procedures. When User Co-op meets the conditions of the "early hostile takeover protection," members democratically govern User Co-op according to the procedures in our Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.

How do members govern User Co-op?

We make governance as easy as possible for our members. For every governance matter that concerns members, User Co-op will email each member well in advance all of the necessary information and materials so that they can participate with relative ease.

Members must vote for themselves. User Co-op doesn't allow voting proxies or designees, so members must vote for themselves.

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There's no established market for membership in a consumer-owned cooperative tech company, and we're not willing to subject our members to the price fluctuations that are necessary to "home in" on the market-clearing price, if any, in a competitive environment. Doing so would be unfair to our members. A model of free membership and member donations is optimal because it captures a member's true willingness to "pay," it leaves no aspiring member behind, and, because of those things, stands, in our estimation, to provide User Co-op a far, far greater capital foundation than a fixed-price membership would. However, such a model will understandably cause some members to not donate simply because they know that other members aren't required to do so. But non-donating members are