published a piece on Token Daily introducing the concept of a Free Company: an organisation that would provide multidisciplinary talent to work on various blockchain protocols & projects.
The idea would be to allow people to contribute to several projects,resulting in a more decentralised set of contributors to each of them. Also, it would provide projects with a “one-stop shop” of expertise including product, marketing, UX, engineering, research, etc. to help #buidl. Given its multidisciplinary team, the Free Company would likely be competent at evaluating potential blockchain investments, and then putting its resources towards making their whitepapers a reality, with aligned incentives.
Where a Free Company would operate, image taken from Jill’s original post
In her piece, Jill states that this would allow today’s top talent to contribute to, and receive upside in, several projects. This model would also potentially allow the transfer of knowledge from project to project in a more efficient way, given that today most teams still work somewhat independently from each other.
I believe the benefits of a Free Company model could be even greater. First, allowing individual contributors to unite under a single entity may give them exposure to projects where their skills aren’t needed at the moment, and second, a Free Company could become the perfect “training ground” for people considering entering the space, but who do not want to commit to a single project due to their lack of familiarity with the ecosystem. Let us explore these in more details.
The Freelancer Hedge
Even though projects, in general, want to work with freelancers, for every engagement, there must be Freelancer-Project-Fit. This means that as a freelancer, there are potentially projects you’d like to collaborate with, but that don’t require your exact skills at that time. Similarly, there are potentially projects you are not particularly bullish on that have a huge demand for your skills. This results in you not necessarily receiving upside from the projects you are most interested in.
But! If you pool freelancers together under the umbrella of a Free Company, then it increases the odds that *someone* in the Free Co. will be the perfect fit for a project, and hence the likelihood that the Free Company shares in the upside of this project is higher.
A few questions still remain, though. Namely:
- How should members of a Free Company distribute compensation from engagement with projects internally?
- Are there any “Core Values” around which the Free Company is formed? If so, who makes a call on whether an engagement is in agreement or not with these values?
- How do you avoid adverse selection? Why would the best freelancers join a Free Co? What’s in it for them?
Gateway to Crypto
The other way in which I can see Free Companies being hugely valuable is as an onboarding mechanism to the cryptocurrency space. This is not an easy space to wrap one’s head around, and one of the easiest entry points is via centralized organizations. Yet, an immense portion of the work happens outside of these.
You can imagine a Free Company being the perfect place for someone who wants to contribute to the space, but not commit to a specific project, to get involved. The Free Company could even work with people who only have part of their time to commit, and then slowly drag them down the rabbit hole 🐇.
This would give people broad exposure to the space, let them form an opinion that isn’t (as) biased by specific projects, and result in always having a set of fresh eyes look over the work the Free Co. is doing.
Again, there are many unanswered questions:
- What is the right balance of new vs. veteran talent that a Free Company could handle?
- How quickly can we expect people to contribute? How does the Free Company handle the costs of training people?
- Would a Free Company truly be a better gateway than a centralized company, where the structure remains similar to other companies?
In short, I believe Jill’s idea of a Free Company is very promising. Aside from the benefits mentioned in the original article, I feel that a Free Company would help freelancers get better upside exposure to projects, and that it could be a great gateway for talent looking to join the ecosystem. As always, there are more questions than answers about this idea, but that’s what makes it interesting!