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Academic Programs

We develop a model to compare the governance of traditional shareholder-owned platforms to that of platforms that issue tokens. The owners of a traditional platform have incentives to implement policies that extract rents from users.  If the platform’s owners can commit to future policies, they can implement a more efficient outcome by issuing a token that offers claims on the platform’s services. Such a token alleviates conflicts of interest between the platform’s owners and its users, mitigating inefficiencies: a policy that benefits users increases the value of tokens and therefore the platform’s seignorage revenue. If the platform’s owners cannot commit to policies ex ante, however, they can achieve the same outcome by issuing a token that bundles claims on the platform’s services with an ownership share (i.e., cash flow claims and voting rights).