Maximum Fun creates a media co-op
Maximum Fun, the long-going podcast network built up by Jesse Thorn, is becoming a collective. Wendy Lee, writing for the L.A. Times:
On Monday, Thorn — who has co-owned Maximum Fun with his wife since it was incorporated in 2011 — announced his company would become a worker cooperative, a novel business model in the podcast industry, but one that has been tried by many small businesses including bakeries and pizza places. The ownership will be shared equally by at least 16 people, including Thorn, the company said.
The process of converting Maximum Fun into a co-op took about a year and a half, Thorn said.
Thorn said he would receive an upfront sum and a percentage of the company’s revenue for a limited number of years. The company is taking out a loan from a community development financial institutions fund.
Based solely on my demographics, I should land squarely in the center of the Maximum Fun ideal listener matrix, yet it’s never really been my thing. I was an early booster of Put This On, the web series Thorn co-produced with the inimitable Adam Lisagor, I’ve just never fallen into the MaxFuniverse. They seem to be doing ok!
I love the thinking here, drawing on a tradition of worker owned collectives and co-ops to face down gigification platforms and other collectively owned media orgs. Thorn seems to be allergic to consolidation that’s happened around podcasts over the past decades and it’s deeply encouraging to see an alternative to the raise money and sell to a big company route.