Is ownership over? An important Silicon Valley figure thinks maybe.
Yesterday, Y Combinator partner Paul Graham tweeted:
Will ownership turn out to be largely a hack people resorted to before they had the infrastructure to manage sharing properly?
— Paul Graham (@paulg) April 15, 2013
Y Combinator is a Silicon Valley incubator famous for launching and investing in some of the most valuable and successful startups going right now.
Graham is a head honcho there.
That makes him worth paying attention to.
The job puts him in constant contact with the Valley’s most successful entrepreneurs, investors, and CEOs. Also, as one of the people who gets to decide who gets into Y Combinator, he plays a big role in shaping where things are going.
So what companies is Graham looking at that would cause him to say such a thing?
Here are some ideas:
- Salesforce.com pioneered something called software-as-a-service, where large companies subscribe to cloud-supported enterprise applications instead of buying licenses or creating software in-house. Lots of startups copied the idea on a literal level. Now some are copying the theory behind it: that subscribing to a product is better than owning it for both the company that makes it and the consumer.
- Zipcar is only the best known car-sharing ownership replacement service. Another Valley company the early adopters out there are already using is a called Lyft, a ride-sharing service. With it, you can use an app to summon someone willing to give you a ride for a couple bucks. There’s also Uber, which makes an app you can use get cab to your location in minutes.
- NetJets is the Zipcar of the skies. For $600,000, you can get 50 hours of private plane usage per year. If that sounds expensive, look up how much it costs to buy a used Gulfstream. Then look up gas prices.
- Seamless is a take-out delivery service that very popular in New York. I use it two or three times a week. You open up an iPhone app and complete an order in two minutes. It already knows your credit card number if you’ve used it once, and the tip gets included. If Seamless doesn’t seem like an ownership alternative to you, watch a season of Downtown Abbey and think about how, instead of building a kitchen staff for your apartment, you can use Seamless to share a dozen different kitchens with your entire neighbourhood.
- Spotify makes buying an MP3 from the iTunes store seem silly. Netflix already did the same for movies and TV shows.