Thank you so much to Chalkcar for livestreaming our event!
The way we work in the United States is undergoing a fundamental shift. Out of the manufacturing age workers have learned the hard way that the traditional stable 9 to 5, isn't so stable. Now, independent work is giving Americans a chance to secure happiness in the work place.
Currently, a third of the nation's workers are freelance. This number is expected to hit 40% - 60 million people - in the next decade. LA Time's Sara Horowitz's recent piece America, Say Goodbye To The Era Of Big Work talks about why this employment shift has been a long time coming.
Despite all these factors, it seems like the number one reason persons choose freelance work is for the flexibility. Horowitz quotes a recent survey done by oDesk who found that 89% of freelancers prefer work flexibility to a traditional corporate career. And over half of millennials prioritize job flexibility over pay. This is such a cultural shift from the era of corporate life and Horowitz believes she knows why.
While the government struggles to catch up with this new era of work, freelancers thrive. Check out the rest of the LA Times Article and let us know what you think. Are you considering a shift to the freelance world? And if you have already, was it worth it?
Investors are starting to take notice of the ever growing sharing economy. With a consumer peer market worth $26 billion that continues to develop the sharing economy has some serious potential. This week Raj Kapoor of TechCrunch gave us a comprehensive review of what a sharing economy start up needs to succeed.
It seems like there are new start ups daily, especially within the shared economy. Kapoor points out that, like in other businesses, those who do best are usually scratching an itch that consumers haven't been able to reach.
Kapoor believes that is why ridesharing and fitness have done exceptionally well:
Kapoor also cautions start ups to be aware of the watchful regulatory eye, currently challenging the sharing economy daily. Lyft, Uber and Airbnb are a few of the many sharing platforms that are constantly under fire for violating the law. Kapoor wisely recommends that you should work hand in hand with the government to create a win-win for all parties.
To see what else is needed for your sharing economy start up needs to be successful, check out the full TechCrunch article and let us know what you think.
Shareable's Cat Johnson recently covered Cooperative Jackson, an organization promoting economic justice in the nation's poorest state. Mississippi has a median household income of just over $37,000 and almost a quarter of residents live under the poverty line. Cooperative Jackson hopes to change that by developing a strong network that encourages economic democracy and equality.
Shareable interviewed the Coordinator of Cooperative Jackson Kali Akuno, to talk about the organization's goals, challenges and the impact they have had on the community.
Founded in 2005, Cooperative Jackson is a network that includes a training center, a cooperative bank and several other established cooperative institutions. Aside from teaching people about the importance of cooperatives, they also provide education on how to create one. Recently they hosted Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference, a successful event that attracted international attention.
While well-received by the majority of residents, not everyone is pleased. Campaign contributors to Jackson's new mayor have shown opposition, but that does not discourage Akuno. "WIthout question, the arms that are open to us are far more powerful than the few detractors when they act as a unified front. But, the detractors presently control much of the economy of the city and region, so we have a fight on our hands."
Jackson aims to lead the south in creating a new economy, and perhaps even the US.
Cooperative Jackson aims to have a minimum of 10% of jobs in Jackson be drawn directly from the federation of worker cooperation. If successful, Jackson would set an example for the influence the sharing economy could have on struggling economies.
Check out the rest of the interview on Shareable and let us know what you think.
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.
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.
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?
Healthcare has found the sharing economy. Israel-based app HelpAround, connects people with diabetes in the immediate area and is the first 'sharing economy' app to hit the healthcare world.
Founders Yishay Knobel and Shlomi Aflalo started HelpAround last year after a friend forgot his diabetes test strips at a sporting event. The app provides users with a local support group of nearby helpers who could be of assistance. A person could share in the app forum that they don't have their supplies, are feeling unwell, or need help with using equipment. Other users in the area can connect with them to provide assistance or support.
"Here at HIMSS [Health Information Management Systems Society] it's all about hospital-to-patient, doctor-to-patient, nurse-to-patient. Why is no one talking about patient-to-patient?" Knobel said during a recent interview. "Especially when research has shown that peer support drives medical outcomes."
The app has been quite successful so far, with thousands of users and about a 90% response rate to questions. As Knobel mentions, higher levels of social support are associated with better diabetes and other illness self-management. Additionally, studies suggest that providing social support may result in health benefits comparable to - or even greater than - receiving support.
With an increase of focus on patient satisfaction and aftercare, peer support apps such as HelpAround can help medical facilities better educate and support patients.
"Diabetes management is exhausting for both patients and caregivers, yet there hasn't been a healthcare industry after-care solution that helps patients by connecting them to each other," Knobel has said. "HelpAround premise is: the best resource for a patient is another patient. We harness the superior trust, empathy and camaraderie within the diabetes patient community, allowing members to discover peers who truly 'get it'."
We are interested to see what other healthcare based sharing economy platforms spin off of HelpAround. Check out Mobi Health News' recent article on HelpAround and let us know what you think. Where else could you see a peer-support app being beneficial?
One of the first things opposition of the shared economy will point out is that members are not actually sharing anything. There have been debates based solely on the name of this economic model. The only thing I can equate this to is how the rest of the world must feel about American Football. Misleading title and not technically true (at least for the majority of playtime). Supporters of the sharing economy can't argue too hard because most of the larger platforms aren't exactly sharing or collaborating. Airbnb hosts receive payment for the usage of their homes, and TaskRabbit's receive payment for their services. To share would mean that there was no payment required for goods or services, and therefore, opposition is correct. However, this has no affect on how supporters feel about the shared economy in the same way that Americans will continue to defy the world with the word soccer.
Andrew Geant, CEO and Co-Founder of WyzAnt, a tutor search website, recently wrote an article for Entrepreneur regarding the naming of the shared economy. Geant's article, The Sharing Economy is Misnamed But Deserves Celebration Anyway, takes a look at what we could be calling the sharing economy instead.
"Certainly there are common threads among these businesses and reasons why several of them have grown exponentially to multibillion dollar valuations. But sharing and collaboration are not part of the secret sauce. What makes these businesses special and successful are the concepts of participation and utilization."
"'Participation' and 'utilization'' are better terms for this new sector of the economy because these adjectives describe concepts that sharing and collaboration have never fully captured."
In the article Geant goes onto to explain where and when "Participation" and "Utilization" fit:
"Participation: noun; the action of taking part in something.Businesses like Uber, Airbnb and Etsy increase accessibility to goods and services that were historically limited by regulation, price, awareness and other factors. This is true for both supply and demand (riders and drivers, hosts and travelers, and buyers and sellers). These businesses cause participation to increase among all parties."
"Utilization: noun; putting to use; turning to profitable account.Utilization is another way of saying that these businesses take advantage of excess supply and latent demand. This is where the term “sharing” is often substituted incorrectly ( When I rent a spare bedroom on Airbnb, it is a business transaction, not sharing. I'm motivated by profit to utilize a resource I control)."
Geant reviews a handful of sharing platforms and where they would fall into his new categories. Check out the rest of his article for more information.
What do you think? Does the sharing economy need a technically correct title? And if so what do you think of Participation and Utilization?
Lyft has expanded to 60 US cities and had hoped make it 61 with the addition of New York City last Friday. However, NYC has declared Lyft an "unauthorized service" and threatened legal consequences if the ride-share app launched. Lyft held off as long as they could before announcing they would work with the Taxi and Limousine Commission:
"Today we agreed in New York State Supreme Court to put off the launch of Lyft's peer-to-peer model in New York City and we will not proceed with this model unless it complies with New York City Taxi and Limousine regulations. We will meet with the TLC beginning Monday to work on a new version of Lyft that is fully-licensed by the TLC, and we will launch immediately upon the TLC's approval."
Lyft assured the public that there was no TRO (temporary restraining order) or injunction, but that everyone agreed to meet Monday if Lyft held off on their launch. Wall Street Journal reports that the decision was less nonchalant than Lyft lets on. They state that familiar face, New York Attorney General Eric. T, Schneiderman (from the Airbnb's subpoena in NYC earlier this year) and plaintiff Benjamin Lawsky, filed court papers on Lyft's original launch date in order to stop the company from operating in the state.
"Lyft's arguments are a disingenuous attempt to disguise old-fashioned lawbreaking that jeopardizes public safety," Messrs. Schneiderman and Lawsky said in a news release. Schneiderman is no new face to opposition of the shared economy and knows that NYC will set a standard for other cities worldwide.
Lyft's competition Uber, managed to get licensed in NYC after initially launching without the TLC's approval. Some have speculated that this was because Uber had recently hired Ashwini Chhabra, the then TLC deputy commissioner for policy and planning. Many within the taxi industry find this to be very suspicious:
"About 4-5 weeks ago, [we] ... accused Ashwini of working for Uber presently and in the past," Evgeny Freidman, who owns one of the largest taxi fleets in New York, wrote to TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi shortly after Chhabra's hire, according to the New York Observer. "I would insist as a major stake holder in this industry that the TLC open a [Department of Investigation] investigation into this matter."
However, several industry experts believe that Chhabra's hiring had nothing to do with Uber's licensing but rather that Uber agreed to play by the TLC's rules, which up until now, Lyft has refused to do. Uber has embraced regulations and operates only with city-licensed vehicles. TLC spokesman, Russell Murphy states:
"From our perspective, … Lyft is unique from Uber in a larger sense because they’re not following TLC regulations. Uber, at least from what the TLC says and what Uber says, is following all the regulations,"
So yet another legal battle to watch in the sharing economy. Let us know what you think, will NYC grant Lyft a license? Or use them to set an example for other "unauthorized services"? To read more check out the Business Insider article on Why NYC's Lyft Crackdown Probably Isn't Linked To Uber and Wall Street Journal's coverage of Friday's decision.
Brian Chesky is not only the CEO of home-share platform Airbnb, but also one of the first to become a billionaire off the shared economy. Last week he discussed his predictions for the Sharing Economy at the Atlantic Aspen Ideas Festival. Considering Chesky's success his bold predictions are worth paying attention to.
He explained that society started on micro-entrepreneurial roots:
"Cities used to be generally villages, and everyone was essentially kind of like an entrepreneur, before there were factories. You were either a farmer, or you worked in the city as a blacksmith, or you had some kind of trade. And then the Industrial Revolution happened."
Throughout the interview, Chesky makes several predictions about the future of the sharing economy and its impact on society.
Chesky predicts that not only will the industry be able to create upwards of 100 million micro-entrepreneurs, but it will also save us from future recession and robot-worker society. We'll also be living in a world where people can become businesses versus the traditional work-for-the-man archetype. He also predicts that everything will be small with less big chains and outright ownership. "You're not going to have big chain restaurants. We're starting to see you have farmer's markets, and small restaurants, and food trucks. But, soon, restaurants will be in people's living rooms."
While worth the watch, If the 1 hour video is too long for you check out the recap from Venture Beat. Gregory Ferenstein's article "Airbnb CEO Spells Out the End Game For the Sharing Economy in 7 Quotes" breaks down the main points of Chesky's interview.
Let us know what you think. These are pretty bold predictions and the one thing we'd love to hear is a timeline. Is this the future of the Sharing Economy? Will we see it in this lifetime?
This week Dutch politician and European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes gave us her perspective on the sharing economy and recent taxi protests. She believes that there is a 'valley' start-up culture in Europe and it needs greater support. On her blog she responds to widespread strikes and attempts to ban or limit taxi app services across Europe.
She recognizes that this is a fearful time for cab drivers stating "it is right that we feel sympathy for people who face big changes in their lives" but "we cannot run away from these debates either".
Kroes believes that Europe needs more entrepreneurs to create jobs and growth. These entrepreneurs understand that services can no longer be designed around the producers, but need to empower the consumers. She is concerned that if Europe does not embrace entrepreneurship Europe will be know as "the place that used to be the future, but instead has become the world's tourism playground and nursing home". Kroes states that the disruptive force of technology is a good thing. "It eliminates some jobs and it changes others. But it improves most jobs and creates new ones as well".
She also warns that sharing entrepreneurs need to follow the rules and pay taxes but also sheds some interesting light on the role of regulators:
She concludes with a plea for Europeans to stop running away and face facts: "digital innovations like taxi apps are here to stay. We need to work with them not against them."
Check out the rest of her blog post on her website and let us know what you think. It's certainly one of the more in favor responses to the sharing economy by a regulator thus far. Is she right? Are regulators running from digital technology instead of embracing it's potential? Is there a way for both apps and taxi companies to live in harmony?
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!
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?
Last week's blog post talked about trust in the sharing economy and different views on whether peer economy users are experiencing honest, organic trust or not. Whether you believe that the sharing economy is a trust inducing system or that it's all an illusion you can't ignore that it's an economic model that is increasing in strength.
But how are they doing it? Peer-to-peer Sites like eBay and Craigslist have been around for almost 2 decades and while both have done well, they didn't necessarily inspire the intensity of excitement that we are seeing from the success of companies like Uber and Airbnb. Carl Alviani explains why in his recent WIRED article "Uber Learned the Hard Way: Transparency Rules the Sharing Economy". Alviani talks about Uber's recent struggle trying to explain their surge-pricing policy:
This is far more vitriol than you’d expect from a simple price increase, but makes more sense when you recognize how much consumers hate opacity and unpredictability. So when CEO Travis Kalanick announced that Uber’s app would indicate when a current surge period is scheduled to end, fans breathed a sigh of relief. Kalanick describes the move as an attempt to “bring more humanity to our communications,” but it’s more accurate to say that Uber is finally coming to grips with active transparency, which has become standard throughout the Sharing Economy.
Alviani goes onto to talk about what other platforms, such as Airbnb and Etsy, are doing to promote transparency. Essentially, they highlight everything that could go wrong with your connection and what to do about it. All with the clarity and care that you'd find on any other part of their site.
This is why established peer-to-peer marketplaces like Etsy and Airbnb make a point of using their design chops to celebrate information that others sweep under the rug. Go to their websites and you’ll encounter pages outlining terms of service, cancellation policies, dispute resolutions and other boring details, treated with the same elegant design and clever copywriting as taglines and banner ads. Features like searchable photos, well-written descriptions and sensible interaction flows are everywhere, not because they’re nice to have, but because they’re the foundation that allows this trust-based model work. These are what make browsing for vintage furniture more comfortable on Etsy than on eBay, and meeting people on Match.com less creepy than on Craigslist.
It appears that Uber has learned their lesson and it will be interesting to see what else they will make transparent. Check out the entire article by Alviani on WIRED and let us know what you think. Why do you think transparency is such a huge part of the sharing economy? Better yet, why does this feel like such a new concept? What organization would you like to see be a little more transparent?