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I think we’re reaching the end of something.

It may only be a stopover on the long journey into irrelevance for exploitative social networks that obscure their true intentions behind small print terms-of-service. It may just be a warning sign for brands that ‘partner’ with their consumers only to wring every last idea and data point out of them.

But it might be more than that. Even if some of the institutions of our corporatized world linger on, there’s something new rising up in their stead, driven by the many, by the participants.

Participant is our term for everyone who makes a commercial or social contribution — consumers, citizens, corporate employees, small business owners — that big messy mob of all of us that makes the world turn each day.

This new participant-first orientation will form the backbone of what we like to call the Participation Economy. It will result in businesses, organizations and technologies of all sorts being enabled, led and powered by all of us. Value creation and eventually ownership will be decentralized and the spoils of a commercial endeavour will be distributed equitably to all those who contributed to it. Blockchain and cryptocurrencies will have big parts in this change but the exact roles they will play are uncertain. These things are just tools at our disposal.

This wave of change is one reason why we formed IOVIA. It’s our new venture, an organization that works with companies of all sorts who want to make measurable positive impact right now, both socially and commercially. It’s a venture that puts participants first. We’ve always championed fair and sustainable business models and platforms and now are putting aside all the talk and making it happen. Inside IOVIA Labs we are building a platform that brings everything above to real, tangible life.

We are lining up partners right now.

IOVIA won’t be for everyone. Some brands will recoil at the idea of true consumer autonomy. Some brands will still see creating positive social impact as the purview of the Corporate Social Responsibility department rather than as core to the DNA of their company. But let’s face it — not all brands are made to last. The graveyard of the once mighty expands every year.

We are here to work with those who believe an equitable, sustainable future can’t wait. It’s here now.

I think we’re reaching the end of something.

But I know this is the beginning.