Tech Cooperatives Panel at SXSW Interactive

A panel on tech cooperatives will be presented in Austin in March at SXSW Interactive.  Word from C4 Tech and Design:   C4 will pack-up and head to...

A panel on tech cooperatives will be presented in Austin in March at SXSW Interactive.  Word from C4 Tech and Design:


C4 will pack-up and head to Austin for the 2012 South By Southwest Interactive to present a panel discussion about our experience as a worker-owned tech business. We’re honored to be presenting with colleagues from web design and tech collectives from all over the country, including Design Action Collective, Quilted, Third Coast Workers For Cooperation, Palante Technology, and Ownership Appalachia. The panel will focus on the future of our industries, and why collective ownership of our businesses is a particularly successful model for the design and tech fields. For more info on the panel, check out our proposal on the South By Southwest Interactive website


The original proposal:



Thomas Beckett – Ownership Appalachia, LLC



  1. Andi Shively – Third Coast Workers for Cooperation
  2. Drew Stephan – C4 Tech & Design
  3. Raeanne Young – Quilted
  4. Jack Aponte – Palante Technology
  5. Poonam Whabi – Design Action Collective



Most experienced IT folks have faced the choice of freelancing versus working for an established business. Freelancing offers creative autonomy but not necessarily steady income. A job with a larger company provides a steady paycheck but often comes with creative and personal constraints. We are part of a growing movement among creative professionals who want an alternative to traditional business structures. The worker-cooperative business model enables IT professionals to maintain control of their work and life, produce excellent work, and retain the benefits of the value that they create, without sacrificing security. Our tech cooperatives offer the support and team approach of a firm but are entirely owned and democratically governed by the folks who work in them – us. This is a moderated panel with a focused, first-person discussion of different experiences of working in tech cooperatives. We will explain why a growing number of IT professionals prefer working in a co-op setting, the advantages and drawbacks of a democratic workplace, and the processes of starting and maintaining a worker cooperative.


Questions Answered

  1. What is a worker co-op, how is it different from traditional business models and why is the co-op model a good fit for IT?
  2. How does functioning as a worker co-op change your work product or affect your relationship to your clients?
  3. What are the challenges of working in a co-op setting, and how do co-ops deal with them?
  4. What is the state of the tech co-op nation? How many are there? How are they doing?
  5. How do you start a technology co-op?


Representative Tech Co-ops & Collectives:

Gaia Host Collective (Hosting, MA) –

C4 Tech & Design (Web production, design, support, repair; New Orleans) –

Quilted (Web Design, CA) –

Design Action Collective (Web & Print Design, CA) –

Palante Technology (Web development, Brooklyn) –



A Technology Freelancer’s Guide To Starting a Worker Cooperative –



“The Old Economy’s Not Coming Back. So What’s Next?” by Gar Alperovitz


Organizations and other resources:

U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives –

Third Coast Workers for Cooperation (Austin) –

Ownership Appalachia (North Carolina) –


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