How Technology Is Changing The Future Of Capitalism From Competing To Sharing

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The “sharing economy” — the notion of collectively getting more use out of things by increasing the number of people who can use them — is nothing new. 

People have been sharing tools for all of human history. Most people have even let a friend borrow a car before. 

But as Le Web conference founder Loic Le Meur noted recently, the Internet, smartphones, and location-aware apps are letting people share like never before. You can hop on Airbnb and rent an empty townhouse in France for the weekend at a fraction of the price of booking with a travel agency.

Can’t get a loan from a bank to start your business? You can create a Kickstarter and raise all the money you need from the people who’d be interested in your product in the first place.

It’s amazing to see the ways people are coming up with to better take advantage of the web to collaborate on and share the things that we used to have to pay for ourselves.

The Sharing Economy

It's going to be big

Loic's first example is housing rental service Airbnb: Look how many people use it, even though it's still brand new.

Here's where Airbnb was available in 2008...

... and here are its locations in 2012

The growth is staggering.

We see a similar growth pattern with social lending service LendingClub

As well as with the crowdfunding site Kickstarter

A large portion of the market is already using sharing services for more expensive goods, like cars...

... but an even larger group says they would if they were more readily available

Why are these services doing well? The biggest factor is probably the recession.

People are looking to save money where ever they can.

People also realise that their purchasing decisions have real world impacts.

Waste is a problem that we have ignored for a long time.

Everyone is tired of accumulating useless junk.

Even people who aren't hoarders accumulate too much clutter.

People are starting to realise that material possessions alone aren't making them happy.

Even with average income increasing, surveys say people are less happy than they used to be.

We don't want to buy junk anymore.

Ahem - Shake Weight, anyone?

Social apps and services available from anywhere are pushing things forward rapidly.

Carpooling is an option for way more people when you can cooperate with complete strangers

What makes a service successful in the sharing economy?

Whether it's content or a car, people just want to have access.

Netflix is a great example - you don't own the movies, but you can watch thousands of hours of content easily.

Same thing with Spotify for music...

... and with Zipcar for cars.

These concepts are essential for a service in the sharing economy.

Craigslist is used by millions, useful for both sides of a transaction, and relies on trust.

Toms lets you buy shoes and serve the greater good at the same time.

By establishing trust between the service and users (or between users themselves) you establish a strong bond.

That's been a guiding principle for the founder of Craigslist.

Thanks to Loic for his excellent thoughts and examples.

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