I’m super excited to announce that Pia and Aseem are both joining the OpenCollective adventure. They are both remarkable people with very complementary skills. I’m thrilled and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to work together to empower people to collect money to do great things together.
Pia is the cofounder of DemocracyEarth (YC2015) and of the Net Party in Buenos Aires. Like me, she is passionate about redefining our institutions for the Internet era. She did a brilliant TED talk about it that I invite you to watch if you haven’t already.
I first met Pia in Dubai in November 2014. We were both members for the social media council of the World Economic Forum. I was impressed by her drive and passion. We quickly connected and became friends. I even squatted in her apartment in Buenos Aires with my family. From their couch, I published my first “Twitter Storm” on the concept of Democracy 2.0 (looking back, it’s actually very relevant to what we are doing now with OpenCollective). She moved in January 2015 to San Francisco to do YCombinator (in their non-profit track). We kept in touch ever since and when I presented her the concept of OpenCollective back in September 2015, she immediately loved it and we started contemplating the idea of working together to make it happen and make it big. She’s also the mom of a beautiful 2-month old baby girl named Roma.
I met Aseem in 2010 when he was working on a news-related product at Google. We tried to hire him for Storify. We were very close but we couldn’t make it happen as we were already too late stage for him to get any meaningful equity. Looking back it was a mistake. You should always be generous with equity, especially with people who can have a significant impact on the success of your company. So instead, he went to Dropbox where he worked 2 years before starting his own startup in NYC (in which I was an investor). We kept in touch and we became friends ever since, playing ping pong (I kick his ass), or chess (he kicks my ass), going on bike rides or philosphying about meditation or the impact of tech on society. He is the one who convinced me to do the Vipassana 10-day meditation retreat.
I always thought that it would be awesome to do a company together. Even more so as I was following his progress on his own company and I could tell that he was struggling with the things that I’m good at and that he was really good at the things that I’m struggling with. So towards end of last year on one of our regular Skype calls I threw at him the idea of joining OpenCollective. It basically went like this: “listen, this may sound crazy given the situation, but we both know that it would be awesome to build a company at some point together, and I’ve started this new company that I will be doing for a very long time. So it’s basically now or never”. He said “it’s not that crazy because we were actually thinking of closing down our startup here, so let me think about it”.
I couldn’t have dreamed of a better founding team for this project. It’s also a very diverse team with people who have experienced many countries around the world. 3 continents are represented: South America, Europe and India. 4 languages: English, Spanish, Hindi and French (we’ll stick to English as the working language for convenience :-) ). And most importantly very complementary skills. While we will all be involved in many aspects of the company, Pia will primarely focus on developing the community, Aseem will develop the company from the inside and I will focus on the business, general vision (see my essays on a New Form of Association for the Internet Generation) and making sure that the team — starting with Pia and Aseem — have everything they need to be as successful as possible.
I’m super excited that Pia and Aseem are joining us. We will be spending a lot of time together for many many years and I’m very much looking forward to this. Thanks Pia, thanks Aseem. It’s an honor. I’m grateful.
I hope that you will also join us in this long journey as a supporter, a user, an employee or an investor to empower people to do great things together.