Today alone, there have been over 500k Airbnb stays, well over 1 million Uber rides, and around $500 million in sales on Amazon, all due to peer to peer sharing. The sharing economy has become one of the driving factors to the US and world economy, it is not slowing, and it is redefining employment.
The obvious businesses of the sharing economy are Uber- ride sharing, Airbnb- hospitality sharing, Instacart- grocery delivery, Thrive Market- meal plan sharing, and TaskRabbit- free lance labor. These businesses have completely transformed the way we look at work and is taking away thousands of employees from full time jobs allowing them to become their own type of entrepreneur by utilizing the products and services they have right in front of them, i.e. cars, homes, and labor skills.
Along with peer to peer sharing, peer to peer lending (crowdfunding), has grown significantly; think Kickstarter and Indiegogo. In 2015, over $34B were raised, growing over 100% from 2014, funding projects, sending students to university, and numerous other reasons.
But how did we get here? And how and in what other industries will the sharing economy expand into?
Firstly, we got here because of internet and from the internet to social media. The internet globalized so much, similar to air travel. While we are accustomed to Facebook and Snapchat, there were other social media websites before them, MySpace as well as AOL Instant Messenger. These are very foreign now, but they played an important role for social media. They started to create a sense of community and trust on the web between users.
The internet gained so much momentum in its early stages that it led to the dot-com bubble. Though it quickly gained momentum again and created the likes of Youtube, which would democratize broadcasting, allowing users to share personal media, just as Twitter democratized publishing.
From here the sharing economy had a platform to start and grow, and grow it did. It has transformed numerous industries. But what other industries will it impact? Will there be an Uber for energy, agriculture, manufacturing, or other industries? What would that look like? While the sharing economy may seem like a new phenomenon, it is rooted in one of societies greatest tools: bartering. Bartering has been around longer than anyone really knows, but the internet, air travel and shipping globalized it.
Share your thoughts below as I am curious about how you think the sharing economy will progress.