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?

Taxi Protests Gridlock Downtown Washington DC

A caravan of angry taxi drivers gridlocked downtown Washington DC this Wednesday. The source of their anger? Ride-sharing services such as Lyft, Uber and Sidecar.

A taxi caravan of hundreds drove slowly and honked car horns as they held up traffic on Constitution Ave on Wednesday. Photo via Washington Post

A taxi caravan of hundreds drove slowly and honked car horns as they held up traffic on Constitution Ave on Wednesday. Photo via Washington Post

Photo via Washington Post

Photo via Washington Post

Cab drivers all over the world have been protesting these new ride-sharing services claiming they have an unfair advantage over traditional taxi drivers. Cabbies must follow strict regulations and require special licensing to operate. Regulations on ride-sharing apps are still being decided and at best, a gray area. 

Wednesday's gridlock has been the newest form of protest from the taxi-industry and it wasn't just in DC. Drivers in London, Paris, Madrid and Berlin brought traffic to crawl earlier this month, honking their horns and waving signs denouncing the local transportation agency and taxi apps.

Wednesday's protest shows that cab drivers will not back down and raises concern as to just how far they will go. Considering that some of these protests have gotten violent, the question now is how (and how quickly) regulators will respond. Driver's voices have been heard in some areas including Virginia, who recently issued a cease and desist letter to Lyft. Where in other cities, such as Seattle, ride-sharing apps have been welcomed as competition to local taxi services. 

"Authorities said Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest opened in both directions around 1 p.m. The roadway had been closed from 15th to 9th streets Northwest because of the protest. The street closure caused other delays in the downtown area. Ironically, because of the protest, some people reported difficulty hailing cabs."

Check out the Washington Post article and let us know what you think. Are these protests getting out of hand or are they warranted? 

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?

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?