Cornerstone Organizations

As we watch growth companies flourish and then disappear when acquired or sold for parts it seems useful to have a name for companies that actively choose to make tools that are durable and anti-fragile.

The cornerstone of a building is a key structural element that supports the rest of the building and is designed to work for the life of the building. So, here's a definition of a "cornerstone organization".


Cornerstone Organizations

🌸 Provide direct and fundamental value

🌸 Plan for and execute on the long now

🌸 Survive the exit or bad behavior of any set of stakeholders

🌸 Maintain course regardless of global markets' behavior

🌸 Are unable to share their users' private information


Here's a fictional straw dog proposal:

The Text Foundation (TTF)

Provide direct and fundamental value

Co-editing and publishing text of a variety of syntaxes is a fundamental capability for knowledge work.

TTF makes a web site where users collaborate on text files in an accessible, localized, and powerful editor with a shared audio channel.

Users can choose to publish their text files using a variety of formats and network protocols.

Plan for and execute on the long now

Corporate structures are designed to be ephemeral (more below).

Data in TTF is stored in standards-based formats in a system designed for regular migration to new standards.

The people managing the B-Corp or maintaining the web site creation and operation functions coordinate their fully-remote work using tools that are maintained by other cornerstone organizations.

The web site is hosted on services spread across continents, across diverse hardware and software stacks, across nation-states, and across corporate control.

The system is designed to migrate to new services and stacks.

Survive the exit or bad behavior of any set of stakeholders

The Text Foundation Inc. is a Washington State B-Corp managed by a board that is elected by vote of paid accounts to the TTF web site.

TTF's web site source code is held in escrow and will be automatically released under an open license if the B-Corp is dissolved, changes ownership, becomes insolvent, fails to provide service, or fails to regularly signal that it has not been compromised by its host state.

Each user account automatically and regularly backs up its encrypted data in open formats into one or more third-party and write-only data stores, ensuring that their data is portable to other services.

Maintain course regardless of global markets' behavior

In the case of failure of the B-Corp the release of source code is triggered (above).

The B-Corp is legally and financially structured such that growth investment is guaranteed to return little value beyond market lending rates to the lender.

The B-Corp has a poison pill clause that eliminates the corporate value in the case of a takeover or change in service offering.

Are unable to share their users' private information

End-to-end encryption using hardware based, local-only decryption is the default.

For transactional data, browser-local storage is the default and service-side storage has a clear deletion schedule.

Co-editing requires the exchange of a secret using a secure side channel that does not flow through the web site.

Marking a text for publication is an explicit action with clear notice to the user.

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