The proprietary/open balance in startup mode.

Marine Institute Ireland, Strategic_Planning_S...
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I’ve written some before on our efforts to peer-produce Shouldess Inc. (^shldlss), the developer of VenTwits and the for-profit cohort of the Social Venture Commons (^svc). We’ve decided to launch early and iterate rapidly with VenTwits and its group focused cousin GroupTwits (to be turned on soon). We’re also planning to open source our code once we’ve rebuilt a core based on how people actually use it.

I believe in the principles and power of peer-production but am finding it a constant tension as we build the for-profit startup. A big part of that I’m sure is my experiential conditioning. What’s been most recently tested is how much of our business strategy and development plans should be in the public domain.

Taylor Davidson, who is stepping up to help on the financial modeling and strategy side asked me point blank. I fumbled some lame answer that didn’t really say anything. As I’ve sat with it now for a couple of days, I’m actually questioning what if anything should be kept private. It comes down to speed of execution and I also think that the more broader the engagement the greater defensibility we have – provided we execute. If people are a part of it, they’ll rally to support it.

What do you think? Is there anything that should be kept private? Why? What are the risks? What are the benefits?

Right now I’m feeling ready to open everything up and push this experiment even further.

Foolish or fruiful?

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Opportunity ’09: micro-messaging based collaboration

A ripe red jalapeño cut open to show the seeds
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My focus heading into 2009 is micro-messaging based collaboration. From where I sit I think it will have a profound effect on the way we organize resources to get things done and will mark a fundamental shift in shape of the organizations and systems of our future.

Some key features of this are:

  • Broadly accessibile: easy (web-based), distributed (available in any site), portable (sms compatible)
  • Action oriented: every interaction is a contribution, every contribution builds relationship
  • Interest driven: fluidly find, follow, and do things that *are* interesting at every moment

I’m tackling this through two tracks:

  • The Social Venture Commons (SVC): open-source micro-messaging based collaboration platform (non-profit/charitable)
  • 3P Launch Co (3PL): SVC based tool and property developer (for-profit)

Within those there are 4 core components that I already see emerging from the SVC platform:

  • application to formal organizations that are incorporating a degree of peer-production (VenTwits)
  • application to groups as a lightweight rapid action support system (GroupTwits)
  • application to tasks for seamless real-time management
  • personal context engine (semantic history)

The core platform is currently in development and I’m working on some founding partnerships for the SVC to support innovation integration, social tech incubation and organizational capacity. For the for-profit arm we are working to launch our first property (beta) by February.

In January I am seeking a seed round of up to $250,000 invested as either charitable donation (into SVC) or as a convertible debenture into 3PL (also need a new name). The structure being resolved for 3PL will include substantial equity participation for SVC and for founding collaborators in 3PL. Further equity/revenue participation will  be designed into each tool/property created in 3PL to further support peer-production.

At the core of all of this is this notion of peer-produced organizations. We’re off to a great start thanks to huge contributions by Joseph Dee and Matt Nish-Lapidus and there are already a handful of others starting to make their mark in this to. While I’m not stupid enough to think this is going to be easy or that there is any guarantee of success by conventional measures, everything in my experience and my body tells me that we are hitting on something that has the potential to make profound change and we’re going to have a heck of a great ride trying.

There’s never been a better time to make change – and never been a time where we as global citizens are as much in need. Giddyup!

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