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The ownerless company of tomorrow

The Bob Pritchard Column

Everyone from small startups to major corporations are jumping on blockchain. In addition to transforming areas like data and payments, blockchain is shaking up traditional corporate structures. 

Through blockchain, companies can fundraise without stocks, operate without bank accounts, and pay employees without even knowing their names.  Soon we will be able to create a completely ownerless company.
 
 
Today, startups should incorporate with taxes and stock options in mind. However, Blockchain companies, to build a community, only need an internet connection and a good regulatory environment. 

 They’re open source groups that manage internal funds in straight crypto currency and don’t need traditional bank accounts. Ethereum, for example, raised funds through a public crowdsale, backs a free-floating token, and operates the Ethereum Foundation as a Swiss non-profit corporation. 

This means most of its value comes from sources that operate outside the legal bounds of traditional corporate structure.
 
Tomorrow’s companies might look more like a trust, which has no owner and simply uses a special legal system and denominates everything in their native token.

Checking in at a centralized office is increasingly an outdated concept and Blockchain developers are spread out, often fully anonymous, even the team members don’t know who other team members are. There’s one called Mimblewimble where the developers use Harry Potter characters as names.
 
Many major projects have employees spread across the world, or are headquartered in regulation-friendly financial zones like Switzerland or Singapore. Anonymity can be especially desirable for employees located in more strictly regulated locations.

 Norms like decision-making based on seniority and other internal politics will not necessarily be intuitive. New rules may have to be written into companies’ software, rather than ingrained in their culture.
 
Blockchain companies are developing solutions to help “open organizations” codify their voting, politics, and employee rewards.Helium is pioneering a hardware device that could effectively kickstart a decentralized telecom, bypassing the need for capital-intensive mobile towers. Future crypto networks could crowdsource purchases of machines, real estate, labor, and more.
 
In the near future, blockchain companies may even challenge today’s big tech incumbents. With the ability to leverage dispersed workforces, distributed computing hardware, and new revenue streams, ownerless companies may soon offer competitive services at bargain prices. 
 
A robot walks into a bar and orders a drink.  
Bartender says, “Hey, we don’t serve robots.
And the robot says, “Oh, but someday you will.”
 
Posted on October 29, 2018

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