Collective Tools is a platform cooperative that was established in 2018, after its founders were interested in how organizations could run cloud services, that did not necessarily have to rely on big tech.
We had a chance to sit down with Petter Joelson, Co-Founder of Collective Tools.
Collective Tools offers its customers cloud-based services, that do not compromise their data, and where members remain in full control of it.
The idea to establish a platform cooperative comes from the rise of this business model in tech companies, and because the co-founders were very familiar with the cooperative movement (Joelson is also the co-founder of another cooperative, Digidem Lab).
As the coop founders describe it “in a platform cooperative you are not just a customer, but also a member of the cooperative and have a say in the running of the company.”
The services offered are basically a cooperative alternative to Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, and Slack. Expect that in Collective Tools the user gets full control over the administration, and the services are catered to the organization’s needs, they are accessible for people who are not incredibly technical, and they are even available on mobile phones!
Their current clientele is everywhere from Japan to South America, to parts of Europe.
“Everyone is used to the same sort of services, and if we can provide those services in a democratic, transparent way, why wouldn’t we?” says Joelson.
On the long run, they aim to take a minimal market share from Google, as cloud services become more and more popular, and a necessity for almost every type of organization. A lot of organizations are beginning, or simply are small, and cannot afford the hefty price tag that the tech giants offer. With Collective Tools, they provide a flat rate for these services, which makes them increasingly attractive.
Wanting to break into the market does not come without any challenges. Of course, they are looking forward to the coop growing, but they would much rather do it by working with like-minded organizations. They offer their services to cooperatives, democratically managed organizations, or companies promoting the greater good.
Collective Tools is also a part of Civic Tech Sweden, a national network that uses “tech for good”, where they develop digital tools for transparency, and push the agenda for citizen driven digitalization.
When asked how the coops in tech look in Sweden, Joelson thinks that the tech sector needs to organize itself to not get swallowed by the tech giants. Companies should organize themselves together and establish bigger coops, to present a united front to the Big Tech, if they are not creating local jobs, nor paying taxes at times, so why would they break into their local market?
On the long run, Joelson thinks big tech cooperatives are needed.
“There is a lot of work to do still, to establish ourselves as a real alternative for all”.