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Once the foundation stage nears completion, the PM needs to emphasize fundraising.

If any investment money comes with a stipulation of actual ownership of Consensus, Consensus will eventually evolve into a corporate entity with a corporate agenda. Issuing preferred shares in Consensus will ensure these early investors get a good return on their investment, yet cannot take control away from the members. To learn more about preferred shares, click here.

Who will buy these preferred shares?

  1. Quasi-philanthropists: Some wealthy people will understand the need for a co-operative social networking site like Consensus. They will likely look at their purchase of preferred shares more as a donation that could turn into a reasonable investment.
  2. Wealthy Early Adopters: There will be a few early adopters who would like to contribute a little of their wealth to get Consensus started. Buying preferred shares, which will be available long before the dividend-earning profiles are ready, would give these adopters a mechanism to help move Consensus from concept to launch.
  3. Real Investors: If investors believe that Consensus will survive and prosper, they will see the preferred shares as a fairly risk-free investment. A higher dividend rate will find more serious investors.
  4. Services in Kind: To get started, Consensus will need to “hire” the project manager, lawyers, accountants, software programmers, and other professionals. If some of these people would be willing to work for preferred shares (in full or partial payment) rather than full professional payment, this would help Consensus survive its beginning years. In particular, I would say that the project manager would need to receive a significant portion of his/her pay in preferred shares. In other words, if the PM wants to earn a professional salary, he had better create a good business plan and implement that plan wisely so that Consensus can later afford to redeem the preferred shares held by the PM. Now that's corporate accountability!
  5. Software in Kind: Perhaps the biggest buyer of preferred shares would be a social networking company that has already developed a fairly functional program for social networking. Rather than build the software from scratch, Consensus could obtain this company's software in exchange for preferred shares in Consensus. With the fragmenting of social networking sites, it's not likely this company and Consensus would be competing for the same kind of SNS users. Rather, the company should see its business with Consensus as a secondary source of revenue from its main asset.

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