The Tech Co-op Network is a new network of twenty (and counting) U.S.-based worker coops that provide media, communications, and computer technology goods and services, including website and graphic design, web development, web & email hosting, IT consulting, computer sales & repair, social media, communications strategy, and mobile application development. Many Network members work primarily with cooperative, progressive, nonprofit, and social change organizations.
The Network hopes “to catalyze collaboration and mutual support among [its] members, while educating, encouraging, and supporting would-be cooperators and the general public.”
The creation of this Network is the latest step in a decade of worker coops’ emergence and steady, organic growth in the tech industry. The community began forming in 2004 around an email list, and in 2009 a group of list members created A Technology Freelancer’s Guide To Starting a Worker Cooperative. Between 2011 and 2013, the email list nearly doubled in membership, tech worker coops were discussed at conference sessions all over the US, the Freelancer’s Guide was downloaded hundreds of times, and lots of folks were inquiring about starting their own tech worker coops. After the Great Recession and coincident with the International Year of Coops, there was more interest in tech worker coops than ever before.
The Tech Co-op Network represents one possible growth and expansion strategy for the worker cooperative movement: making visible and strengthening the vertical and horizontal connections among worker coops within one industry, with a blend of integration, federation, and friendly co-opetition.