Any Southeast Asian coops out there?

Hi! I’ve been reading more about worker own tech and platform coops (just finished “Ours to Hack and Own” and “Everything for Everyone”) and am looking more into the idea of starting or joining one.

I’m a Thai-American producer whose mainly worked on VR, AR, livestream and creative tech projects but also have product own experience for SaaS products. I’m looking for like-mineded people in Thailand (currently in Chiang Mai, but usually based in Bangkok) or beyond who may be interested in speaking more or sharing their experience either working with or setting one up.

I’ve worked with too many companies that pay ‘expats’ more than Thai staff members doing the exact same work, and am interested in using any passport privilege I have to counteract colonial practices like this.

Been stalking the forums and grateful for the amazing advice out there.


I used to work for an investment bank and oh yes, I know what you are talking about :smile:

It was called something like “location strategy” and it seemed really confused - a typical scenario being that some man power hungry inefficient job gets outscored to “centers of excellence”, and the choice of its location seemed to depend on the prevailing forex rates, government subsidies of host countries, language, infrastructure, etc.

But it was often really controverted and farcical because the relocation itself was costly, not to mention the cost of firing employees in expensive countries (aka Japan :sweat_smile:) and of course, the expat pay for the hardship of living in a strange foreign country (<- this is in a declining trend though, I think)…

Popular destinations were countries like India (offshoring) and Singapore (“near-shoring”)

And I have seen many similar strategies taken up by small IT companies to destinations like the Philippines.

What you are proposing makes a lot of sense!!


@jenkatan29 Welcome and solidarity! So nice to hear there is potential for a new tech co-op in Thailand. Feel free to ask any questions you want on our forum. There’s load of people with various expertise who would be happy to help any way they can.

Are there any hackspaces in Thailand? That might a good place to meet people interested in doing something a bit different. In my co-op a lot of us met through our union. Many of us were already working in tech but kinda hating their current job.

I’ve worked with too many companies that pay ‘expats’ more than Thai staff members doing the exact same work, and am interested in using any passport privilege I have to counteract colonial practices like this.

This is a disgusting practice. As an anarchist, I think it can only be counteracted with strong unions and proper worker co-ops, if the state isn’t interested in actually interested in addressing this.


it’s ridiculous! and sets the office up for insane power dynamics that gets in the way of actually getting anything done. Doesn’t make sense from any perspective!

Yes! There are hackerspaces but many are in the read. The ones I’ve spoken with don’t have the capacity to try anything new and rely heavily on government funding as is. Many have shut down.

A contact who runs a games company says that having developers from many different countries was what attracted many of his animators and developers, because they wanted to work in mixed English and Thai environments - so I’m starting to wonder if this is a ‘build it and they will come’ situation where I start having public conversations around the idea, see who bites, and work through vision and goals together.

I’m still early in research phase, thankful to @yasu for sharing agaric show and tell notes. Wanted to plant the flag in case there are any others in the area who might be interested in brainstorming together :slight_smile: I’ll share updates on this thread as I go!

I suspect it’s a practical thing, there is usually a reason for everything. In order to persuade the expat to move they likely will have had to negotiate a “package”, otherwise they wouldn’t have moved?

Trust me, the company is not going to pay more than it needs to!

It’s not an even playing field because the expat may have long experience with the company that the company values so is prepared to pay more for.

Over time I suspect pay rises for the expat will be more limited unless they return to a high cost location, so in the long run it probably evens out.

It’s very hard to directly compare people because skill sets and experience are often unique.

One of our guys is based in Indonesia. :slight_smile:

For us collocation is irrelevant as our strategy is 100% online.

To date I’ve only met one of my colleagues physically. We do aim to do a meet up at some point, venue TBD

Hey Robert,

Thanks for sharing your perspective. I agree, its hard to directly compare people - I can only speak from my personal experience and the company i worked for hired an ‘expat’ already living in Thailand who had never worked with the company and ended up yelling at the staff, then expected me to clean up after him so we can push the product out in time. It was not pleasant - but this is an extreme (I hope)

Going completely online is the end goal, but I read in meeting notes that doing in person meetups and hang outs helps with trust building and social cohesion - especially with freelancer co-ops. I’m still researching different co-op models but I have more freelance experience than any other field so thought I’d start there.

How did you and your Indonesian teammate find each other?

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Sounds awful! Hopefully that won’t happen again! Sorry you had a bad experience! There are bad (and amazing) managers everywhere!

Working on the same ecosystem you get to know the good and hard working developers.

Welcome to the forum @jenkatan29!

Very sorry about your experience with expats! Never saw things from this perspective. I’m myself a London-based immigrant focused on stealing British jobs :sweat_smile:

How did you find “Everything for Everyone”? After disillusionment with so-called ‘sharing economy’, “Ours to Hack and Own” helped me opening up to the multi-stakeholder approach. Earlier this year I took part in The New School and Mondragon’s training programme (the 1st one) focusing on establishing platform co-ops, that’s where I met @yasu! Participants, both learners-workers-entrepreneurs and course partners, came from all over the globe! Sending an email to the address at the bottom of the page linked to above might be a way to get introduced to (some of) the people you’re searching for.

Our co-op does XR too, would be keen to chat more!


Yess!! just found Everything for Everyone last month so I couldn’t sign up for this in time, but I’m signing up for the Spring session starting in April! I haven’t tried asking for introductions to others in the course - only emailed to get added to the waitlist. Will give it a shot, thanks for the suggestion!

It was a well written, breezy introduction to more contemporary examples of different co-ops. Very enjoyable and informative, gave insights into the aspects of each community that made their initiatives work, but it’s defintely geared towards inspiring people in the co-op direction and not as much on the history of co-ops, instructionals on how they work, or any drawbacks. I loved it and would recommend, but you may already know many of the examples

Yes would love to!

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On the international note, Global Innovation Co-op Summit 2020 starts in 2.5h!

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