Why WorldBrain.io does not sell shares/equity

We believe that selling shares/tokens so that investors are rewarded with uncapped returns through either speculative value increase or infinite dividends is the root cause of many of the problems we try to solve at WorldBrain.io.
Value speculation and uncapped returns create an intrinsic drive for a company to strive for infinite growth, monopolisation and dominance. This winner-takes-all incentive heavily contributing to the destabilisation of our economy, environment and society. ‘A growing cancer’ is not an unfitting analogy. To be clear: Even though we have strong criticism about the incentive structure of the current iteration of Capitalism, we are not anti-capitalist. We think there are great parts about it, like the incentives to empower individuality and growth, and a relatively efficient price finding and innovation mechanism. What’s missing for us is a system that implicitly asks “how much is enough?” so that there can be economic freedom to internalise the externalities created by actors of the system, and care for its socio-economic stability. That’s what Capitalism is lacking currently.

As an organisation we want to see a world where our society makes more sustainable, efficient and compassionate decisions. Good decision-making is needed to solve our most pressing problems like climate change, sustainable agriculture, education and poverty.
To make good decisions, it’s fundamental for our society to experience less polarisation and access more qualitative & diverse information.

WorldBrain.io, the company stewarding the development of Memex, does not sell shares that can be sold and traded, and thus will never develop speculative value. Instead we use the Steward Ownership model which rewards both the team and our investors with a capped share of our profits. Meaning for a 100.000€ investment, investors get back for example 300.000€ that are paid back with 15% of our profits.
Additionally, investors have by default no voting rights so our company’s purpose and direction can only be influenced by people working here.
The capped profit share is basically a loan with very high interests that can only be paid back when we make sustainable revenue and thus bringing real services to the world. With the cap we actively remove ‘greed’ out of the equation, while still offering fair returns for the risk taken by investors and team members.

WorldBrain.io not selling shares does not only have a moral reason, but also a very strategic one. We think it will be one of the key enablers to reach our vision.

Every person has different knowledge management workflows. We each use different apps in our daily lives and have different ways of communicating information.

Our vision is to create a diverse network of people across many different fields that are able to share and build on each other’s knowledge. Memex’ purpose is to provide a tool that is useful to the individual and wraps around their workflows perfectly, so that it becomes increasingly frictionless to share their research work. Memex MUST be adaptive to every person.

However as a single company trying to build a one-size-fits-all tool we won’t get there. We need 1000s of different tools and providers for different use cases that share a common protocol/language for exchanging knowledge.

To illustrate that let’s compare the biggest knowledge management tool Evernote with a prototol like Email that allows new service providers to enter ‘its’ market. Evernote with its proprietary nature and VC driven economics has ‘just’ 200m users in a 3-4bn market while email is adopted by almost 4bn users with thousands of different tools for everyone’s taste. With Email you can instantly switch to other providers and you don’t have to care what email app your contacts use. This is where we need to get in order to create the diversity needed for our vision.

To create such a diversity of providers, WorldBrain.io needs to be able to give away 99%+ of the economic potential without reducing investors’ returns. Users need to be able to easily migrate to other providers and never lose access to their existing network of people. If we were to sell shares we would instead be incentivised to create powerful lock-ins because growth would be the most important thing to optimise for and thus losing users/profits would be the worst that could happen for investors.

Steward Ownership provides a powerful economic driver to support the principles of interoperability and freedom-to-move that is required for people to get the best Memex for their needs and efficiently share their knowledge.


Well said Oliver. The idea of capped returns is a very interesting one and the reasons you’ve laid out here make a lot of sense.

Today I learned about the concept of steward ownership. Thank you!