Black Cat Searching (BCS): Hybrid Organization
Black Cat Searching (BCS) is a division of Start Foundations Ltd, which is a hybrid organisation; a for-profit company focused on creating a global public good in accordance with our mission, which is the embodiment of the Contents of "About Us", in short; BCS is run as a community service first and a business second.
What is a Hybrid Organization?
Traditionally there have been 3 typical organization entities which could be dramatically over simplified as follows:
- Businesses - Directed to make as much money as possible, any legal way possible.
- Non-profits - Directed to follow their missions to help people as much as incoming donations allow.
- Government - Directed to create public goods with tax revenue and regulate businesses to prevent profiteering run amok and harming people.
BCS is an attempt to build and develop a joint 4th organizational structure, which can be called a hybrid organization. It combines the best elements of the 3 traditional structures but introduces a 4th Socially Inclusive element:
- Like a non-profit, BCS focuses on fulfilling its mission to help people.
- Like a government, BCS is building a public good like a library or a park that can be enjoyed freely by all.
- Like a business, it uses profits to finance its operations, expansion and assure stability for the project indefinitely.
BCS via Start Foundations Ltd is focused on creating a significantly sized, self sustaining, profitable hybrid company that is independent of Political Interference, focused on providing the tools to help people help themselves, support and expertise to help humanity help themselves.
It is a fact of life, that finance and money is the pump primer, life blood and in many instances essential for achieving many inclusive goals. But, it is simply a tool, and it’s acquisition not an end in its self.
Our view is that by helping others we also help our organisation; we hope we can serve as a role model for other entrepreneurs and businesses to follow thereby creating a self perpetuating model, free of external interference and personal agendas, an “A political, religious and Jurisdiction free environment” by inter-trading. The world would be a better place if more organisations succeeded in creating thriving Socially Inclusive structures and products; this is our aim and we hope to create a successful example here.
Advantages of Being a Hybrid Organization
People ask why BCS and Start Foundations are not a pure non-profit organisation. There are several advantages to the for-profit hybrid organization structure to that of a non-profit.
- We never have to ask for donations from our readers, site visitors and contributors to keep the site going. In addition to not annoying our community with donation requests, we also free up donation resources for the Start Foundations projects and other similarly minded non-profits that require donations. Our founder is a member of a global organisation whose members raise and donate £millions annually to a large number of charities, worthy causes and local communities. This organisation does not seek publicity and therefore its activities are not publicised, but it’s actions and support are experienced by many.
- Financial stability guarantees the project's survival. BCS and Start Foundations is not subject to the whims of a bad fund raising climate or the vagaries of Politics. Our objective is to always be here.
- Freedom from funding constraints, changes in the tax code, and interference from large donors and individuals seeking self aggrandisement and promotion.
- Ability to plough profits back into the site/sites. BCS and Start Foundations profits are used to finance engineering expenses, site redesign costs, back office administration, and other projects which could not easily be accomplished through volunteers alone.
- Ability to finance community events. Every year BCS and Start Foundations will financially sponsor their “Social Conscience” members to travel to one location and meet face to face. Such meetings strengthen our community and increase our ability to collaborate.
- Profit for BCS and Start Foundations founder and steward Michael Giles. While some may wish that Michael received no financial compensation for BCS and Start Foundations, profitability assures that Michael will remain as BCS and Start Foundations steward and will be financially as well as emotionally motivated to help BCS and Start Foundations accomplish its mission.
- Ability to donate to charities, non-profit organisations and community projects
- Ability to serve as a role model. BCS and Start Foundations is succeeding in becoming a significantly sized profitable company, and influencing other businesses and entrepreneurs to follow our lead. More hybrid organisations would be good for the world.
Are there other open source projects not for-profit?
Some, most notably Wikipedia, have chosen to build non-profit businesses. However, there are several other for-profit companies that do try to obtain profitability with a social goal or mission in mind.
Some examples of the for-profit ventures include:
- Wikia - the pro-profit wiki site founded by Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia.
- WikiTravel.org - a very successful wiki that is attempting to build the world's largest travel guide.
- wikiHow - a successful wiki that is providing a very useful addition to the Wiki format
- Firefox – the open source browser has a very profitable commercial operation and a non-profit foundation simultaneously.
- RedHat Linux – one of the most popular Linux distributors.
- MySQL – the creators of the open source databases that wikiHow, Wikipedia and BCS run on.
- Craigslist.org - the mostly free online classifieds company which has served to build many online and offline communities.
- Newman’s Organics – Paul Newman’s organic food company which dedicates a large percentage of profits to charities.
How does BCS and Start Foundations make money?
BCS uses a mixed model for the site data Content displays, FREE OF CHARGE, BCS Sponsored Listings and clearly marked advertising to non-registered users. If you are logged in you can log out to see how the ads appear to anonymous users. (Be sure you know your password before logging out.)
What if the profit incentive runs amok?
BCS and is run as a community service first and a business second. All "business decisions" are made with the clear mandate; the mission comes before profit concerns.
Which means BCS will never engaged in some of the less tasteful practices found at some other websites. We will never charge for access to our site. We don't have pop-up ads, pop-under ads, spyware, malware or other mischievous software. Our advertising is minimalist.
Michael is unbending in the mandate, BCS is the realisation of a 20 year dream of creating a self sustaining organisation that is for the benefit of it’s members and humanity, that will outlive it’s creator but stay true to it’s mandate. The project has been entirely funded by Michael who is committed to supporting it financially until it is self sustaining, this is in addition to his charitable donations.
Who owns BCS and Start Foundations
The domain name, trademarks, site copyright and Intellectual property belong to the company; this is to ensure that the mandate is followed to the letter. Operating expenses are strictly controlled, this is to ensure that the maximum amount of funding is available for projects. Unlike other sites, we do not prevent the distribution of site Content for any non commercial purposes and contributors to the BCS site must agree to this.
This is where our operating model is different, we will ensure Content is freely available and owned by everyone, it must not be offensive and to ensure this BCS is the final arbiter. office supplies and furniture Content is "owned by everyone".