The Peer Economy Under Fire

This last week was a rough one to market the peer economy. Berlin recently announced that Uber was effectively prohibited from their city while several others, such as Barcelona and London, continue to voice adamant opposition to rideshare services. As per usual, Airbnb is faced with challenges across the globe. 

Justin Sullivan - Getty Images

Justin Sullivan - Getty Images

In addition, the peer economy is constantly being critiqued in the media. Time.com recently posted an article titled "6 Horrible Things the Sharing Economy is Being Accused Of". Sabotaging each other, wrecking the housing market, and illegal currency trading were a few of the troubling accusations listed. The article highlights that the shared economy can be "brutally cut-throat in the way that seemingly everything and everyone is monetized", which unfortunately, has resulted in a slew of negative press. 

The New York Times recently did a profile piece on a few sharing economy employees, specifically highlighting a mother of 3. The Times followed Jennifer Guidry on a 19 hour work day, doing everything from giving rides, to cooking private meals. Guidry talks about how the sharing economy gives her the flexibility she needs to spend time with her kids but comes with the instability of any ad hoc job. 

I like my freedom — fixing someone’s cabinet, driving, pulling up weeds, cooking,” she told me as we sat in her dining room on Monday morning, recapping her weekend of work. “I would not like to do any of those things as a full-time job.

Guidry sheds light on what it is really like to work in the gig economy, and what the payoff is. While she enjoys her work, the article poses concerns about the lack of stability and benefits that come with a traditional full time job. While some platforms have started to offer some services to employees, such as discount health insurance and accounting services, economists worry that it may not be enough.  

While some may see the sharing economy's recent increase in negative media as a sign of impending doom, this could be a very unique opportunity for the sharing community. Watching an economic movement develop in real time has never really been an option before. Enthusiasts can use this advantage to approach issues as they occur and come up with solutions before they become a characteristic of the collaborative economy. The question is whether or not we are willing to utilize this opportunity as a community or if the competitiveness of business will prevail. 

What do you think?

Shareconomy Kickstarter

We are pleased to announce that the Shareconomy Kickstarter went live this week. This project has been an exciting chapter of our lives are we are so close to completion. We invite you to check out the Shareconomy Kickstarter page and let us know what you think.

Shareconomy examines the sharing economy through the eyes of those who know it best. The film features interviews from academics and experts studying the movement, government officials tasked with regulating this new economy, and those individuals using sharing platforms to enrich and empower their lives. Many working within the sharing economy embody the micro-entrepreneurial spirit, a model for the 'new worker' in this 'new economy'. Through these characters, we will discover the complexities of the sharing economy and its current and potential impact on our society. Shareconomy explores both the pros and cons of this economic movement, questioning whether this 'new economy' will transform the way we work, live, and interact with each other forever. 

Through this film we have an opportunity to spark a global conversation on this economic movement while still in its primary development. Economists and academics have predicted that this new sector could have the biggest impact on society since the Industrial Revolution. Globally, sharing economy companies are worth nearly $500 billion and are disrupting major established industries and challenging governmental regulations. We hope this film can provide a macro-level view of the sharing economy movement and an honest discussion about the pros and cons.

The film is about halfway through production and we need your help to finish it. Those familiar with the sharing economy will understand why we utilized crowd-funding to help us complete funding. A film based on the economic impact of the sharing society wouldn't be right if we didn't partner with our audience. Our goal is to raise $115,000 by July 4th, 2014. We've come up with some unique rewards for every level donation, all with the sharing economy in mind (including crashing at the Director's house for a night). 

Please take a moment to check out our Kickstarter page and view the extended trailer. We are so grateful for any contribution you can make, including spreading the word to family, friends and colleagues. 

Thank you so much for all your support. Let's make this movie happen!

Share NY

Today Greg and Jillian headed to the inaugral Share NYC conference at NYU. Hosted by Arun Sundararajan, Luke Williams, and Cynthia Franklin, #ShareNYC featured speakers and panels discussing current hot topics in the sharing economy. The event joined together "entrepreneurs, government leaders, academics, business executives, VCs and students for a unique day of discussion and thought leadership about the emerging collaborative, peer-to-peer and sharing economies." Unfortunately the event was not live-streamed, however Twitter gave us a pretty decent play by play on the main points of discussion.

The first Share NYC conference seemed to be a success and continues to confirm the interest society has in the sharing economy. It's excellent to see such a young economic model hashed out by groups of educators, regulators and enthusiasts while still in development. Did you have an opportunity to attend #ShareNYC? What did you think? Are these conferences developing the sharing economy or not?

Some Setbacks for the Sharing Economy

"Scrutiny of the so-called sharing economy seems to increase every day" and today it's in San Francisco, one of the collaborative economy's model cities.

The San Francisco city attorney sued two landlords Wednesday, claiming they illegally converted residential housing into short-term rentals that were advertised on Airbnb and similar services. The former residents, two of whom were disabled, were evicted using the Ellis Act, a controversial California law that allows landlords to reclaim properties for their own personal use.

Jim Wilson/The New York Times  Dennis Herrera, San Francisco City Attorney

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Dennis Herrera, San Francisco City Attorney

Ouch. While Airbnb states that this particular landlord has been banned from the using the site, it doesn't mean it won't happen again.

This isn't a new discussion, especially in San Francisco who is currently in the midst of an affordable housing crisis. "Housing advocates say the law is often abused by landlords seeking to cater to the lucrative tourist market".

Ride-sharing also continues to be a topic of constant scrutiny and platform Uber is currently under investigation by New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman for illegal price-gouging  (selling goods at higher than reasonable or fair prices). Schneiderman is also seeking information from Airbnb which ended in court (again) this last Tuesday. 

Check out the rest of the article from The New York Times Blog and let us know what you think. Are these setbacks only the beginning? How can a sharing economy services such as Uber and Airbnb prevent users from abusing services? And how should the law respond?

Seattle Suspends ride sharing regulations one month after passage

Just one month ago, Seattle City Council enacted new regulations on rideshare companies like Uber and Airbnb. Yesterday, Uber, Lyft and Sidecar submitted more than 36,000 signatures on a repeal petition forcing a public vote. An ordinance so challenged is suspended until the public vote.

The suspension — whatever happens in the future — is a major victory for companies offering an alternative to Seattle’s much-criticized taxicab service.

In a wider sense, it is a win for the city’s technology economy, which took to heart the cause of ride sharing, arguing that Seattle must be a 21st century city open to innovation and new ways of providing services.

This is huge news for not only Seattle ridesharing companies, but for the technology driven collaborative economy in general. A public voice this strong is an obvious indicator of the popularity of sharing economy services.

Check out the entire article on the Seattle Pi's Blog and let us know what you think. Is Seattle's response to city regulation only the beginning? 

Why are people Sharing?

While the Sharing Economy has become increasingly popular you may have wondered why people are choosing sharing over ownership. In the Report "Sharing is the New Buying, Winning in the Collaborative Economy" by Jeremiah Owyang, Vision Critical and Crowd Companies they asked over 90,000 people why they share goods, services, space, transportation, and money. They found that the top reasons people participated in sharing was because it is more convenient, it has better value and it's a unique experience.

Check out the rest of study here and the recent dissection on why people share here and let us know what you think. Why do you share?

The 'Sharing' Hype - Do companies like Lyft and Airbnb help democratize the economy?

How can a movement that has been started by corporate and venture capital be any kind of socialism?

2013 marked significant growth in the new sharing economy, ride-sharing company Lyft saw a twenty fold increase in users and room-sharing platform Airbnb gained 6 million customers. Last year also exposed the legality issues of sharing services and has now intertwined the sharing economy with regulators. Currently, most legal focus is on ride-sharing (e.i. Lyft and Uber) and room-sharing (Airbnb). However the sharing economy has a directory of hundreds of different platforms that provide peer-peer sharing that have the potential to violate some sort of established regulation. The sharing economy has been referred to as an "ugly throwback to the dark days of socialism". The article by In These Times asks "Is the sharing economy in fact socialist, or in any way anti-capitalist?".

In these Times met with David Golumbia, assistant professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of The Cultural Logic of ComputationNeal Gorenflo, co-founder and publisher of Shareable Magazine, and the SolidarityNYC collective to discuss the sharing conundrum. Check out the full article here and let us know what you think. Does the sharing economy encourage an anti-capitalist economy? Or a socialist one?