@josfirak & @steven
Excellent & important questions.
I would really like to respond with a long long post; let’s see what I can do.
Having more investment instruments and having multiple strategies would be absolutely wonderful. And that is what we decided in the member meeting on December: to work toward diversifying and making the project more robust.
The problem is that the traditional coop does not suit that well. It is run by volunteers, as the AUM has not grown enough to support salaried positions. And it takes a lot of committed work to device & deploy new investment instruments. (In fact, it takes a lot of work just to keep the coop going as it is; just the "customer care” alone is several hours per week for 4-5 persons each). Not to speak of the needed general meetings and so on.
Fortunately, during 2015, we (meaning the volunteer team, the board and advisors, members and other people who have taken part in the open offices and other events) believe to have found a way out of this impasse. A goal and a means.
The goal is to continue Robin Hood as a project that evolves, automutates and takes new forms. The next step: the coop of the 21st century as a platform (like facebook or airbnb) owned and operated by its members/users. What if we had a platform, where your money would not sit in a bank, doing whatever the bank wants it to do, but doing what you tell it to do? What if we had a platform, where anyone could develop financial instruments, and launch them as apps for other members to use? A distributed platform like the blockchain. A platform where the success of one endeavour would feed into the success of others. There would be every opportunity to device different investment strategies and different ways in directing profits or other funding to projects. Equity crowdfunding with bells and whistles. No mandatory general meetings; everything happening on a peer-to-peer basis. We are very excited about this possibility.
The means: open sourcing and becoming more focused. Open sourcing is precisely what is happening here, in discourse. The idea is that both 1) the tasks of the coop 1.0 as it is can be divided among more people, making the coop more sustainable, and that 2) the development of the coop 2.0 can be sped up. Becoming more focused: since the spring, a group of people, most of them also volunteers in coop 1.0, have formed a start-up for-benefit company, so that they can concentrate fully on developing the platform. A separate entity, the start-up, is needed in order to gain access to external funding, manage risks and make commitment possible.
We (the volunteer team) are right now preparing a longer document on this process towards the coop 2.0 as a platform; it should be ready in a couple of days and will be posted here.
So, to finally to come to your questions, the fact of the matter is that the volunteer team is, at the moment, more excited about developing the next step, the platform, than tinkering with coop 1.0. It would seem a waste of efforts and quite unwieldly to try to add something beside the parasite, when in view we have a financial-social platform that could – at least potentially – do so much more: options, equity crowdfunding, venture communism, skill-sharing and collaboration, structured finance, something akin to basic income for its members, and so on.
Now that does not mean, in any way, that we should not be thinking about and developing alternative investing strategies. Quite the contrary. That is exactly what the platform is for.
Does that make any sense?