The fact that you’re reading this blog series means you probably know that we’re building a product called Moves.
What you might not know is why we’re doing it, and what our ultimate objective is.
I hope this series of posts will give you a better sense of our vision while covering both our immediate priorities and product commitments, as well as some of our more “out of the box” ideas.
Before we get into the specifics of what we’re building, it’s helpful to understand how we see the state of the gig economy today.
I see the biggest existential risk to companies in the gig economy being their unsustainable relationship with their workforce — people like you. Lyft, Uber, DoorDash, etc. all face this risk. Tangibly, this translates to high levels of worker churn, huge budgets spent on constant worker acquisition and government lobbying, and a never-ending series of expensive legal fights with labor groups.
These companies are constantly trying to find the balance between simply being tech-enabled marketplaces for services, while also having to deal with the fact that gig workers expect more stability.
I don’t see the solution being in the hands of Uber, Lyft, and their peers, or labor unions and governments. That’s why we created Moves.
In a market where the established players primarily have to think about their customers (the demand side), Moves is the product that will prioritize the needs of the workers (the supply side).
Let’s dig into what that means a bit more.
The simplest way to explain what we’re building at Moves is a Digital Credit Union for Gig Workers.
Part of that might come across as obvious, but let’s break down what we mean by that.
First of all, we exist exclusively to serve Gig Workers.
Secondly, no surprise, Moves is a Digital Product. Gig workers live off their phones, so Moves meets them where they are. No branches, no paperwork, no monthly fees.
Now it gets more interesting. We’re very intentional in choosing the term Credit Union, but also explicitly including the term Union.
Historically, credit unions have been regional financial institutions that existed to serve a specific demographic. Think “Frontier Farm Credit in Eastern Kansas.” Credit unions recognized that certain demographic groups have unique requirements. But they were also historically geographically constrained based on the location of a branch, and because of a lack of technology and digital distribution.
In building a Digital Credit Union, we envision being able to support gig workers across the country (eventually across the world) and tailor our products to your unique requirements. We’re off to a good start. We already have Members in all 50 states.
But credit unions are more than just niche local banks. They also approach their relationship with their customers completely differently. “Members” in credit unions are not only customers but also owners.
Ownership is an important part of our strategy. You’ve already seen us release a first-of-its-kind feature that allows gig workers to earn stock* in the companies they power. Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Grubhub, and the list will grow.
But more ambitiously, we intend to design our business such that our Members become Moves owners as well.
Finally, on its own, we emphasize the word Union.
Although we are not a labor union, we see an important vacuum that needs to be filled to provide a genuine and legitimate voice to demand change for gig workers. But our approach will be rooted in economics and a balanced objective that results in a sustainable gig economy for both workers and the companies enabling these marketplaces.
And as part of this strategy, again, we see ownership being critical. But beyond the individual merits of owning stock, we’re bullish on what can be accomplished when we pull together millions of owners into a collective voice.
So, what does that mean for you?
Simply put, we want to make every gig worker an owner; an owner in gig company stock, AND an owner in our business.
By joining Moves, you’re unlocking this claim; that’s right. And better still, it will cost you nothing.
We’ll dig in further in later posts to better understand the financial products we’re building for gig workers and the tangible ways we’re working to unlock ownership on our path to fixing the gig economy.
Why does the gig economy need to be fixed?
I see the gig economy as a pretty simple equation.
On one side is demand, fuelled by customers needing rides, deliveries, tasks, or services.
On the other side is supply, fuelled by the people who pour their energy and time into powering these services.
Today, the unfortunate reality is that the gig economy looks out for its demand, and neglects its supply.
In practice, this means that gig economy companies view gig workers as replaceable commodities. Ultimately, they don’t care who’s driving the car to pick up the customer.
The problem that this creates is twofold. Firstly — for gig workers — this means that your priorities and challenges are never top of mind for the companies you’re servicing. Secondly — for gig companies — a “replaceable” gig worker often needs to be replaced, at a huge cost.
When we propose building a more balanced gig economy that favors its workers, we’re also proposing that this is in the best interest of the gig companies, not just gig workers.
So if the problem is simple enough to understand, why hasn’t it been solved yet?
My perspective is that gig companies have not factored in the positive impact on their businesses from having a more retained (or “loyal”) gig workforce.
When they approach topics like portable benefits or in-app features that favor worker choice, they only consider the costs and not the benefits of these choices.
Today, Uber and Lyft commonly experience worker churn rates above 80% annually. That’s to say that more than 80% of the drivers that sign up for these apps, eventually move on to something else. Sometimes, they move on to other gig apps, sometimes they move on from the gig economy all together.
To replace these lost workers, these gig companies are constantly spending millions of dollars in each city they operate in to pump out sign-up incentives and marketing campaigns.
What if their worker churn could be significantly reduced? What if workers entering the gig economy legitimately saw a sustainable career path that they could commit to for 10+ years?
Ultimately, a sustainable gig economy requires a sustainable gig workforce. And a sustainable gig workforce needs to be able to live a reasonable lifestyle on the back of their contributed work.
In working to solve these fundamental problems, we also discovered that being a gig worker is hard enough, to begin with, and on top of that, you put up with terrible product experiences through which you earn and manage your money, and you have limited options when life throws you a curveball. That felt like a great place for us to start working.
We have a long-term plan to fix some of the fundamental issues of the gig economy I described in previous posts.
But as we started peeling back the onion to better understand the daily lives of gig workers, what surprised me the most was how much *shit* you put up with to do your jobs.
Being a gig worker already requires hustle and work ethic and self-motivation, but I didn’t fully appreciate how much patience and frustration were part of the job too.
Where it was most obvious to us was how gig workers are forced to manage their money.
Again, gig companies started by asking themselves what was best for them; and out of that line of thinking came a series of bad products, fragmented user experiences, and unreasonable hoops to jump through, just so that a gig worker could adequately manage their cash flow…adequately, at best.
So when we started building Moves, this is what we first prioritized. We wanted to build a world-class seamless experience where a gig worker could manage all of their earnings and cash flow from a single account, access additional cash when needed, and never have to jump back and forth between multiple restrictive bank accounts tied to each gig app you work for.
Our work on this continues. And we won’t stop until we’re able to provide the best all-in-one financial product available for gig workers anywhere.
Considering how unique our user base is, we wanted to build a user relationship that extended beyond the basics. Again, this is where we differentiate what we’re building from being less of a “bank” and more of a “credit union.”
Although there are a lot of nuances to this distinction, ultimately we want our members to be front and center in our business model and in our product choices.
In every decision that we make, we first ask what is most valuable to our members, before considering how we can monetize or profit. And any profit that we do generate, we envision being reinvested into continuing on our journey to reshape the gig economy for workers like you.
So where does this leave us? In essence, we’re on a path to serve the millions of gig workers who are experiencing unnecessary frustrations and obstacles in their pursuit of a livelihood and their desire for work independence.
Where the story gets more exciting to us is imagining what becomes possible when we serve and coordinate so many gig workers through one platform. All of a sudden, real change becomes within reach.
Alright, so let’s say we all agree with the problems we’ve read about so far. Now what?
Should we wait for DoorDash, Instacart, Uber, etc. to wake up one day to realize this? Or should we wait for 50 states to individually debate and pass new legislation to address this?
NO and NO
Gig companies will not do this voluntarily until they’re forced to see the value we described in previous posts.
State governments will likely take too long and many will get it wrong in trying to address this, with significant negative consequences (think about what happened in California with AB-5).
But we’re not satisfied with idly standing by and waiting. We have a better plan.
Companies in any industry have one fundamental thing in common. Their #1 priority is to look out for the interests of their shareholders. Naturally, we all want these companies to operate in a way that is sustainable because as gig workers, your livelihoods could depend on it. BUT, we’re not satisfied with gig workers being viewed as secondary stakeholders.
So in trying to solve this, the answer became quite obvious.
What if we could turn every gig worker in America into a shareholder of these companies?
At first glance, the idea seemed impossible, or at least impractical. But being as stubbornly focused as we are, we forced ourselves to find a way to do this.
Owning stock* — or shares — in companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Grubhub (the 4 that are currently publicly traded) changes the equation. As a group, gig workers could represent a huge voting block, and they could earn additional economic benefits from being owners in the companies that they’re helping power.
This idea was too good to pass up. So that’s what we’re doing.
Through Moves and our partnership with Bumped Financial, gig workers will be able to earn stock in these companies. And the cost is on us.
Why would we do this? Again, we’re in it for the long term. We see a gig worker who owns stock as a gig worker who will stick around. For us, that means we get to hold onto you as a Member for longer. And that’s valuable.
But the idea doesn’t stop there.
Ok, now you own some stock. That’s awesome. And we want you to be able to continuously accumulate more stock. So if you continue working in the gig economy, and these companies continue to perform well, your interests become economically aligned.
But there’s also power in numbers. Gig workers stand in the millions. And as a group, you’ve never been organized before.
We see our ability to leverage that collective power and voice to force change that is mutually beneficial and sustainable.
Owning stock is a unique thing. Not only do you get an economic stake in the business’ performance, but in practice, you’re an owner of the business — even if just a small one. And owning stock means you get a say in how decisions are made.
Now, what do we get if we coordinate millions of small owners? We get a voice. A voice that can’t be ignored, and a voice that can demand change.
That’s where we come in. Moves will stand on behalf of its members to represent that voice. And we’ll do this through every legal mechanism available to stockholders.
Every year, public companies, including Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Grubhub, are mandated to have Annual General Meetings of their stockholders. At those meetings, stockholders can put forward proposals and force companies to make changes.
For the first time ever, we’re working to give gig workers a voice that can be heard at those meetings.
And that’s just what we have in store in the coming year. Read more about our long-term vision, where we go from reacting to the powers of the gig economy to turning workers into that power.
For these next few posts, I’m going to take you on a bit of a journey through time. Specifically, I want you to see what I see: a future for the gig economy where workers own the fruits of their labor.
Although most industries rely on labor to produce and sell their products, the gig economy is particularly unique. In essence, labor is the product. That’s to say that what Uber is selling to its customers is access to someone who’s willing to drive them or deliver them food — you.
Labor is so fundamental to these marketplaces that we believe the economic distribution of the value they create and capture should be shared and reflective of that.
In other words, we believe gig workers should own the gig economy.
Obviously, that’s easier said than done. And we’ve seen well-intentioned efforts by worker cooperatives to build products that might directly compete with Uber, Lyft, and their peers. But ultimately, we don’t see those leading to large-scale change.
We approach this problem from a different angle.
To start, we’ve broken out the gig economy into 2 parts:
Both of these should be owned by gig workers.
On 1, I’ve told you in previous posts how we intend to start shifting that ownership to gig workers through stock*. Together, gig workers will increase their percentage of ownership in the gig economy and earn a share of its continued success. Billions of dollars of value has been created in these companies.
On 2, we see an even bigger opportunity. Today, there is no coordinated or efficient financial marketplace for gig workers at scale. That’s what we’re building at Moves. But more importantly, we want to build it with you in the driver’s seat.
We want any value that we create to be shared with you.
We call this the Moves Collective
It’s worth clarifying that this post describes areas of our product strategy and roadmap that we’re still exploring and designing. Specific details about how and when we implement the features described below will be determined as we evolve our product and get feedback from our members.
The term “Collective” is a bit ambiguous and loaded. And as we started designing the “Moves Collective”, we took inspiration from a few historical analogs. In essence, it has characteristics of legal cooperatives, credit unions, unions, and something completely new: a mechanism to dynamically share ownership, governance, and value with its members — you.
A big part of our strategy to do this relies on a technology called blockchain. Something that we intend to invest in over the next few years.
Don’t roll your eyes quite yet. We know there’s still a lot of skepticism about what this technology is and what it can do. So I’ll do my best to paint a picture for you.
In designing Moves, and contemplating the Moves Collective, we need a way to dynamically distribute a token of value to our members that represents a real aligning of economic interests.
We want members to share economic benefits, governance rights, and have access to compounding ownership the earlier they join us, the more they participate, and the more value they contribute to the Moves Collective. Think of this analogously to membership units in a coop, but with more design space to innovate.
We see that token of value being built on blockchain technology. And for lack of a better term, we call it a Moves token.
As members join, participate, and contribute to the Moves Collective, they will earn Moves tokens for the actions they take.
This, combined with the unique attributes and achievements of each of our members — which could be represented with unique NFT designs — will make up the basis for a new economic system designed for gig workers. Ultimately, the Moves Collective will belong to you. And your stake in it will be valuable.
And as more gig workers join our movement, the Collective will grow in value and in voice; all to the benefit of its members.
The future of the gig economy will be heavily influenced by the Moves Collective, and it’ll belong to gig workers like you.
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