I believe that the world needs a competing alternative to the Wall Street stock market corporation. I am looking for low-cost contractors ($100 monthly up-front for 10 hours work + an I.O.U. of $3,000 monthly) gradually to install and manage a Facebook alternative at the domain Popocracy.org. This will follow the 100% nonprofit business model established by Newman's Own. You will probably become impatient if payment is your primary motive. I can only promise that...

a) Start-up contractors will receive priority consideration for permanent contracts at market rates.
b) My own salary as CEO is forbidden to be more than 20 x US minimum wage = about $150 per hour. This of course depends on Popocracy becoming highly successful. The CEO should not receive more than 10 x US minimum wage if this causes charity donations to fall below 90% of income.
c) Every start-up programmer will be owed $300 per hour, repaid at double the rate that I am paid. I.e., before I can be paid $10/hour, everyone else must be paid $20/hour for start-up work. The 2x difference will continue to be paid after start-up work is done. Therefore eventually paying $300/hour for all start-up work even if I never receive more than $10/hour.
d) All start-up team members also receive free lifetime advertising and free lifetime SEO-active links.
e) The start-up I.O.U. agreements are pending business income, so their value depends on your belief in the Popocracy business strategy. This is for each individual to determine. All contractors are encouraged to ask questions and to make suggestions until this strategy is understood and agreed upon by all.

Here is the Popocracy agenda...

Do you believe that at least some social sites and search engines should be nonprofit fundraisers for needy environmental and social concerns? Or are you fine with the fact that the billions of dollars these generate, always goes to those who already have billions of dollars? The oft-quoted fact is that out of the billions from the 1990's stock market boom, more than 80% ended up with around 5% of the population.

I believe that the world needs a competing alternative to the Wall Street stock market corporation. Otherwise our destiny is "corporate feudalism" in which everyone works and shops in Walmart and Microsoft style corporations and free enterprise is eliminated. We now have a narrow window of opportunity during which to change this destiny. As demonstrated by the nonprofit corporation Newman's Own, it should be possible for a nonprofit internet presence to compete with Wall Street giants, if a compelling strategy is developed. After such a nonprofit business model is established, then there will be two choices, profit or nonprofit.

"Nonprofit" does not mean there is no profit potential for entrepreneurs. Indeed the chance of success for a new or small business would be better, due to the advantage of consumer appeal, and the founding entrepreneur could claim a significant salary. In exchange for the greater likelihood of success, the entrepreneur gives up only the remote likelihood of making billions. If billions are made, this is donated to charity.

I believe that a fully-evolved nonprofit business model will not only be more appealing in many cases, but also the existence of greater choice can only strengthen the stock market entities through healthy competition, as well as improve economic stability through greater diversity of economic engines.

If my philosophy appeals to you, and if you have some time on your hands and are skilled in the installation and maintenance of an appropriate CMS, I assume you will have serious questions. Please "reply" publicly or click here to contact me privately.


saitanay’s picture

kristoff0’s picture

Thank you SAITANAY for the interesting reference to Zurker.com. But Zurker appeals to members by claiming to make them money. Zurker claims to have a counter-cultural ethos. But winning popularity based on a counter-cultural ethos and then converting to a Wall Street ethos is a typical pattern such as followed by Apple Inc. and Ben & Jerry's Inc. Indeed this is "the path of least resistance"--so long as a business is fundamentally for-profit.

Zurker promotional statements also claim that all members will be "investors" and will own "V-shares" which are "just like owning stocks." I strongly suspect that such statements will cause Zurker legal problems.

In contrast, Popocracy.Org will operate a nonprofit business such as already pioneered by Newman's Own. Click here for the Wikipedia article on Newman's Own.

1kenthomas’s picture

I am not able to spend much time on this project.

Impressive. So you want a bunch of other people to take on your risk?

a low-cost contractor ($100 monthly up-front for 10 hours work + an I.O.U. of $1,000 monthly)
I would like eventually to pay everyone $100 per hour for all work--as soon as there is such income from the site.

Yeah right. This reminds me of a restaurant owner I once knew, who was actually sketchy enough to get his employees to pay for groceries... else they'd have nothing to cook with.

a dream which I would like to see moving however slowly.

Move slowly? In the internet world? There's no difference between the slow and the dead.

You are aware there are serious people working on other, open-source projects in the sector?

Thanks for the chuckles, however, the above is an obviously recipe for disaster.

kristoff0’s picture

I respect your perspective, apparently someone who is well-skilled and is looking for a commensurate up-front salary. To avoid wasting your time, I began my title with the phrase, "Low-cost idealists wanted." So please move on but also please realize there are other perspectives.

"I am not able to spend much time on this project."
So you want a bunch of other people to take on your risk?

No. Popocracy is only the most ambitious of several related projects, in which I am fully involved and paying all expenses.

Move slowly? In the internet world? There's no difference between the slow and the dead.

What I mean is that Popocracy will be designed to last indefinitely on a low budget, if necessary. However I believe that Popocracy will progress quickly once people are able to see it in action. Your own response demonstrates that in my experience, until they see something in action, most people have difficulty understanding something slightly new.

Popocracy follows a nonprofit business model similar to Newman's Own. If not familiar with this, I suggest reading the Wikipedia article on Newman's Own.

Usually on the one hand, there is the Wall Street model used by the Facebook founders, who made a billion dollars and whose primary goal seems only to make more billions. Why they seem to want to swim in gold or something, I have no idea. On the other hand, we have organizations like Wikipedia and Greenpeace that refuse to take in any profit at all, and then find themselves forever begging. Why refuse to make money in a way that could only strengthen your cause or be donated to other causes?

In my opinion, internet services are a much more ideal product than salad dressing for the Newman's Own business model. I have numerous ideas about how to make this work. I am hoping to find other people who will contribute their ideas as well. But there is no point to my posting lengthy details for people who are not interested.

Those who are interested, please click here to find my contact form. Thank you.

1kenthomas’s picture

Dear kristoff0,

Thank you for your reply.

I want to take a little time to explain why my reaction to your post is so negative.

First, over the past years there's been some discussion among relevant parties of the nature of this forum and 'reviving' moderation of it. I have some interest in volunteering for that, though my own workload and responsibilities are quite high. But as far as that goes, I have some opinion of what is appropriate here.

I am not jaded and am in no way opposed to innovative entrepreneurship. In fact Bo Peabody and Brett Hershey were my roomates, as they dreamed up and began to build Tripod.com. Much of my later life was influenced by that experience, in which I played only a minor role.

Your post raised a number of alarm bells for me. The first and most important, is that you seem to be asking people to work for you for free. I take an offer asking for work at 10 percent of market rates, supposedly limited to 10 hours/month, to be essentially work for free.

This is a principle articulated long ago by Craig of Craigslist. You must pay people for what is essentially work (employment). Unless you're offering substantive partnership, which is another thing, which I take your post *not* to be doing, and which requires proper legal structures to implement, you need to pay people who are acting in an employment capacity.

Whatever your own risk, whatever your existing investment, substantively transferring part of that risk to employees as part of a promise of prospective, forward-looking deferred compensation is neither kosher, nor legal. In the vast majortity of instances that I've seen, it's also going to be a loss for the worker.

Brett and Bo made substantive, up-front investments in Tripod.com. Nonetheless, they appealed to friends, family, acquaintences and others to find the initial capital that would allow them to pay employees a substantive percentage of prevailing market rates. And then, given the risks and situation, they further motivated employees by providing equity-- equity that would later make several early employees into millionaires.

So it goes. You say you have two websites, neither of which are profitable, possibly, neither of which has a substantive business model (perhaps they do). I would not describe myself as "jaded," to say that by the odds, I've seen hundreds of such situations in the past, and the vast majority have no chance of yielding profit.

This forum is about paid services, that is, connecting people willing to pay for work, to people looking to be paid. Plenty of other forums, have other focuses and allow people to offer their opinion and work for free. That is simply not what we're doing here.

In the hundreds of examples I'm thinking above, the ultimate result is that workers, who have little ability to absorb risk and loss of income, wind up loosing. The investors in Tripod.com needed to be qualified; they needed to have enough assets, to not care about the loss and not be hurt by it.

If Tripod had yielded a loss, and its employees had accepted the deal you seem to offer, then they would have taken on that loss without being qualified investors. That seems the bottom line to me: you're asking people who are not qualified to invest, who can really take the loss from failure, to invest in your project.

Equally, from what you've supplied, your project seems to lie well within a large number of projects "just waiting for something to stick" and start producing profit. There may be something to that, but the odds are very bad. And my experience from Tripod and elsewhere, is that it's not so simple. Success requires both an element of luck, and a lot of hard work.

See Bo's "Lucky or Smart?"

There's also the experience of many venture and VC firms, recently reported on Slashdot, that they reject many proposals based simply on the clear fact that regardless of the idea, the team is not substantive and experienced enough to execute the project.

That's the impression I get from the D-I-Y, find-someone-to-advise-me-on-how-I-can-do-it approach above. In my experienc, it's most often taken me less time to do it myself, and certainly resulted in far less headaches, than to try to advise a non-professional on how to do it.

The non-professional almost always makes a series of obvious mistakes and messes, which I would have avoided by default and without even thinking. Do you have version control in place? Are your server environment and administrative practices appropriate to the projects you envision?

A seasoned professional will often know what is appropriate and effective in such situations, intuitively. Without these appropriate, "duly diligent" best practices in place, tasks often take five or ten times as much time, as they should, to complete. You wind up working in quicksand, getting far less done than you could, loosing your potential.

As far as what you're proposing above, it seems to me that either your sites have income potential, or they don't. Maybe that income potential needs to be developed in the long-term, and maybe you need to forgo some immediate income opportunities, for long-term growth.

But what you've written so far, does not impress me with the likelihood that you're strategically managing that with due diligence. It seems to indicate, a good deal of floundering.

Everyone, especially domain experts who also have committments, family and bills to pay, needs to be reasonably compensated for their work. And it may very well be, that a domain expert, or the right series of domain experts if you can find them, can be paid a reasonable amount to evaluate the situation, and offer advise and suggestions that would get you off the ground.

It also seems to be, from the general perspective of business consulting, that by offering a pitance that is also limited in maximum payment (10 hours/month=$100), you're screening out the people who might get you along the path, and justifying that bad decision by anti-capitalist rhetoric or whatever it is.

I certainly don't have the knowledge that it would take to fully advise you, but $100 for 10 hours a month of my time, (likely it's going to be more in reality, right?), is not going to motivate me. $500 for an actual 10 hours, would be far below my going rate, but enough to motivate me to spend time on getting to know your projects, and discuss them with others and look for solutions.

$1000 for 20 hours, or $1500 for 30 hours, might be much more appropriate and workable. We're not going to get through much in 10 hours, after all, are we?

But again, as with Tripod, it's going to take additional capital, to follow up on those suggestions. Whether you like it or not, idealism or not, it takes money and capital to acquire and hire people who know how to get things done, right.

Bootstrapping is one thing; trying to do everything on a shoestring budget, with people who are far from qualified for the task, is quite another and usually a recipe for failure. Merely the cost of acquiring talent, is often a good percentage of their direct compenation. And even if you want to change the system, you have to recognize what that system is, and its rules, to begin to get anything done.

Otherwise, an alternative to FaceBook? Google my old friend Steve Vachiani and his efforts. It's not a particularly new idea, as a few thousand people have had it at least. Your elevator pitch needs to be much more specific and detailed in differentiating what you're doing from all the others, if you want to be taken seriously.

Just my $.02, as it is said, FWIW, of course.

kristoff0’s picture

Mr. 1kenthomas, if you wish, please feel free to abbreviate your long post. I am also editing for brevity. I am thankful that you have taken the time to comment. I have made some changes accordingly. Replying in detail...

  1. Your most valid point was that my OP mentioned "unpaid associates." I meant to say "partners" and now have removed this phrase since it is nonessential.
  2. However I am not starting a Tripod-type business with any hope of millions of dollars of personal gain. This is nonprofit.
  3. I take an offer asking for work at 10 percent of market rates, supposedly limited to 10 hours/month, to be essentially work for free.

  4. The 2012 US minimum wage is $7.25/hour. I have a college degree and would be happy to work-at-home for $10/hour + in my favorite expertise + in my spare time + for a cause I believe in. This may be nothing to you but is not free.
  5. $10/hour is not the only payment, but also a $300 I.O.U. (Increased from $100 previously.) All start-up team members also receive free lifetime advertising and free lifetime SEO-active links.
  6. Your elevator pitch needs to be much more specific and detailed in differentiating what you're doing from all the others, if you want to be taken seriously.

  7. It is best to avoid an elevator pitch. Each person should determine the chances for success and consequent IOU value to himself or herself without any sales pressure. As for the difference this is already stated clearly: nonprofit. That is an elephant-sized difference. Beyond that, it would be foolish for me publicly to divulge a proprietary strategy.
  8. The bottom line is: Do you believe that at least some major social sites and search engines should be nonprofit? Do you agree that it is outrageous if this is not so?
  9. I assume that those who do not agree will not be interested, and those who are interested will have questions. Please click here to contact me.
animare’s picture

I do commend your enthusiasm Kristoff0.

However you need to ask yourself the question:
"If the site I envision was built and it had just as many features that it could rival facebook on a technical level (i.e. it was an exact copy). Would it be successful?"

The first thing you will find in this scenario is that no one will use your site. It would be too generic, even if the ideals of the project are strong people simply will not use it. Then comes the Marketing phase, to get it out there and let people know it exists. Again even if you spend no money on marketing, it would still be extremely costly in terms of time.

About two and half years ago I was a complete amateur in web design, development and life in general :) and I had your same enthusiasm about my ideas for websites. I went out bought loads of domains, and was like "Yeaaaaah" I'm on my way. I started building my own websites in html. I then stumbled upon drupal, took me ages to figure out how to install it and but once installed I thought wow, this is gonna be really easy to build my dream site. I worked really hard for a couple of months and still was building very amateur, buggy, not well planned / structured sites, this is when I realised it will take me about three years minimum to learn drupal well and build a foundation for my dream site.

The reality is to be an expert in drupal you need probably around 5 years in php mysql javascript and another 2 years for understanding drupal at an expert level.

My realisation was that I wasn't going to do what I needed to do without money, reflecting what 1kenthomas said. Luckily for me I was able to secure funding. Now this is probably the best thing you can do, go out and find investors. The main reason I think you need to go through this process is that you will most likely get many rejections. It will hopefully allow you to take the blinders off.

These are my bits of advice for you:

1. Planning and preparations is key. Write out in detail exactly what you want from the site in detail, set nothing in stone to start with. Before I had even started developing my project I had done about 200 visual concepts of what I wanted the site to be and how it would work. From those 200 concepts I came up with about 30 final concepts. Write out how you are going to market your product as well.

2. Get critiqued, show it to everyone you can find, especially strangers. Look for honest responses. Be prepared to take advice, you must be confident but honest, and be ready to listen, learn and adapt. You must be able to chuck away all of your ideas and start from scratch.

3. IMPORTANT, no one will want to work on this project. You have to be able to pay a minimum of £30 and hour. Even then you will probably not receive very good people. Finding good drupal developers is not hard, and the good ones can work so quickly its unbelievable. But you have to pay for them. If you don't then you can always do it yourself but remember it will probably take you about 7 years of learning development for drupal. I'm 2 years in and I am a good site builder with skills in theming drupal. You may want to consider going down this route and learning drupal for yourself. You can build very cool sites just as a sitebuilder

4. If you really want people to help you with your project, you must show them all of the hard work you have put into the project so far, setup a website displaying all your concepts and ideas. If it is truly to be an open source, not-for-profit project then this shouldn't be a problem.

5. Web projects change and adapt on a regular basis, without proper planning this can become extremely costly, time and money. Even with good planning unforeseen things will happen.

Anyway I think your only option is to spend 2 years learning drupal and see what you can come up with as a site builder. Good luck

duckzland’s picture

anthony, is that you?

if you can use drupal why use others?

unleash.it’s picture

Revive moderation. This sort of thing is insulting to developers' right to make a living and has no place here. If she wants a hand out, I suggest heading out to the streets of silicon valley with bells and a sign that says "Start up. Will compensate with food".

I'm sorry OP, I really don't mean to be rude but $10 an hour is not going to feed a family and your justification that someone should do it as a labor of love or that "you would do it" because it's something that can be done at home is bologna. Would I expect my dentist to give me dentures, perform several root canals and whiten my teeth all for $100? Sure I'd love him to. MAYBE there's a dentist SOMEWHERE in the world who out of the kindness of her/his heart would select ME to as the pro bono benefactor of a new movie star grin. But it would be silly proposition for me to head to a dentist's website or a trade show with a booth asking for free dental work. So why is it done so often with Web Developers and other computer freelancers and not the traditional occupations??? I have no clue, it's bizarre to me! The kind of expectation that we can and/or should work for dirt cheap (I've been approached by strangers to work completely for FREE) but not your landlord, electric utility or travel agent is silly weird. Please stop. Perhaps sometimes even unbeknownst to the perpetrators of this curiosity, it is actually very harmful to our trade as a whole and serves to perpetuate further the downward pressures we have all been experiencing on our salaries. Folks, that why we don't like it and why we should work together to discourage it when we can.

Lastly, I would have to agree with the others that 10 hours a month will never lead to a successful social networking app. If you're serious about doing this, save your money until you can afford to do it right. Any less than 6-10k or a lot more for a project like this is fruitless. Of course you will find those who will gladly tell you you can do it for less and take your money. If there was a bell that sounded off for every time a cheaply hacked together site was launched only to sit and gather dust with zero interest from anyone, we'd all need a good set of ear plugs. How many of these projects began very enthusiastically? Guess what, many, many, many!! "This idea is new and different", etc. All that said, if you really have a good idea and decide to honor those who would help you, I wish you the best.

1kenthomas’s picture

A bit of a late reply:

To revive moderation, we need people to take over and to it. We probably need to make moderation official-ish positions, so that people just don't get busy with other things and moderation goes away.

We could also use a feature, to allow both posters and moderators to remove posts that are old/fulfilled, or at least, set a flag so you only see old/fulfilled posts when you search for them.

As for moderation, I've thought of volunteering, but don't have much time. There should be two others. nevets, interested?

On this post, felt it was OK to put issues out there. Ultimately the poster will or will not learn what they need to learn.

Doronro’s picture

hey unleash.it,
it's been a while since you wrote this, but i'm currently looking at a similar dilemma, and was hoping you could break it down a little. i mean break down the 6-10k... would that include any SEO? any PR to make sure it doesn't "gather dust"?
drupal commons has been mentioned here a few times as a possible solution, and it's free. however, tweaking commons is a lot of work as well... so basically i'm asking how to build a budget for a similar project..
kind regards,

1kenthomas’s picture

Hi Doronro,

Given that the OP here was pitching something that seemed rather unrealistic-- a Facebook clone or something-- I think $6-10K was more or less a general stab at "expect to pay this to get started." I've been paid more to make particular (usually search) functionalities work on single large websites.

$6-10K seems to me a reasonable amount to get started on a small site with social networking functionalities, two years ago. Other that Drupal's SEO out of the box, it does not take into account SEO or PR expenses, in-my-opinion.

If you have a particular idea you'd like to pitch and get better general numbers on, I'd suggest posting it here as a separate thread from the above. If you want someone to go through a detailed budgeting process with you (which may take hours of their time), keep in mind that you may need to apy for some consulting hours to get there.

Best, Ken