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Earlier this month members of the NYC sharing economy gathered for what was essentially the launch party of Peers Inc. The recently released book by Robin Chase, CEO of Buzzcar and former co-founder and CEO of Zipcar, provides insight on how the collaborative economy is changing the capitalism economic structure.
Chase breaks down the model into excess capacity, people and platforms in Peers Inc. Platforms with business traits (the Inc in this story) partners with people (the Peers) to turn excess capacity into value. From cars to homes, individual owners across the globe became collaborators in businesses like Air Bnb by leveraging their unused assets. “These assets already exist, they’ve been paid for but there’s more value there,” says Robin.
Synergy between peers and corporations is key. For participants, the platform provides organization; it simplifies and empowers its users. Because peers are seen as collaborators in these business models, there is a stronger communication between the entities. New businesses are nimble and fast in reacting to change, a characteristic that’s allowed them to scale economies and resulted in high growth.
In the sharing economy, individuals are more uniquely valued than before. When people collaborate, they deliver a diversity of choices. In nine years, Couchsurfing grew to over 2,500,000 beds—more options around the world than even the largest hotel chains. “With so many options available, the right person will appear,” says Robin.
In the sharing economy, individuals are more uniquely valued than before.
This new model is not without it’s own challenges. Less job security is available as big corporations phase out and income inequality continues to be a prevalent issue. All employment should be temporary, Chase reasons. People need to adapt more quickly and this is possible if society has a basic income.
What does the future hold? Chase predicts that the next big initiatives are in the environmental space. Distributing energy harvested from solar rooftops and the like. Chase calls her book a trojan horse, that it’s really a vehicle of urgency to use the sharing economy to help the environment. Climate warming will bring people together, finding new ways for collaboration. Unfortunately, people wont do it for social benefits but rather individuals looking to gain as our natural resources continue to diminish.