Peer-to-peer services are starting to mess things up for real.
Which industries are next to be disrupted by the sharing economy? Will we cease to ‘own stuff’?
Whether you’ve only just heard about Airbnb, or are actively sharing your pride and joy via RelayRides, this is a disruptive business model that is expanding every quarter.
As Rachel Botsman eloquently puts it, many are learning to
- Trust in strangers.
- Value access over ownership.
- Value experiences over owning stuff.
If you want hard numbers, Forbes magazine has estimated total revenues across the sharing and P2P companies could reach $3.5bn by 2014, with growth exceeding 25%.
So, here’s a decent sized list of companies focused on collaborative consumption, along with some warning shots, or notes of opposition from more traditional quarters. Once you’ve scrolled to the bottom, you’ll realise just how many of these companies there are.
Dogboarding just got awesome.
Airbnb's success means a lot of us are familiar at least with one peer-to-peer travel company. There are many talking points in travel, both boons and threats.
Disaster Response - a real benefit in this sector
Disaster response is something that Airbnb discusses on its site, and is a service for which it waives all fees. If people want to take refugees into their own homes, P2P services may be the future of clearing up quickly after a disaster such as Hurricane Sandy.
Rogue punters and illegal hotels - potential problems
The danger of rogue punters is a perceived problem with all P2P services. What happens if someone rents your apartment, then trashes it? Insurance generally takes care of this but there is an issue if P2P companies dispute exactly what the cause of damage is, or suspect foul play.
Another potential issue is local authorities propensity to look into cases of ‘illegal hotels’, and therefore prop up the hotel market. In May, New York fined a man for doing just this.
Of course, when it comes down to it, if the property isn’t yours and you intend to list it on a P2P site, you better make sure your landlord has agreed. Even if you own the property, there are often shared spaces which contractually don’t allow tenants to share the space with their peers.
There’s talk of European legislation to partially restrict the P2P market in accommodation.
So, which companies are in collaborative travel?
Share your hotel room! With the epic tag line – ‘Share Cost, Make Friends’. Let’s hope it’s a twin room.
'Share with your friends, and their friends ONLY'. A great way to tone down the scare factor. But what if you have no friends? :-(
Another friends-of-friends collaborative travel network.
Matches travellers with local experts who organise tours and such.
‘Home dinners, away from home.’ Very nice indeed. Notice how we are so innately amenable to sharing that it’s incredibly easy to come up with an effective tag line for these services. Or maybe I’m too emotional?
European version of Airbnb – ‘Pick a destination, choose a property that you like and enjoy an authentic stay.’
Another decent Airbnb flavoured service.
‘Rent from a local and enjoy a more comfy, personal and affordable world.’
The old-fashioned name for the whole P2P travel phenomenon. Couches in 230 countries!
Getting stuff done - tasks and oddjobs
Fairness of contract?
Employment law is a little bit hazy when outsourcing tasks. As most of the fees are set by the person advertising the task, there’s no minimum wage enforced, and it’s difficult to know just how much time is involved. All task doers usually have to work as independent contractors, responsible for their own tax returns.
Let's take a look at some of the companies that can help you find someone to do your jobs, or help other people.
An Australian service. ‘Outsource’ or take up tasks, from IT to deliveries, cleaning to data entry or flyering. There’s an app, too.
‘Your to-do’s done’ – very catchy. TaskRabbit have done very well in the US and are rolling out in the UK and globally towards the end of this year. The service also has a business arm that is simplifying recruitment and taking less of a cut.
Spanish flavoured Airtasker.
Elance has been around for a while, and is a mix of crowd-sourcing and P2P. Professional work entails, rather than the oddjob, much like TaskRabbit’s biz service.
The Turk has been around for a while now, and is named after an old automaton chess player. You can sign up to complete HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks) or post your own.
This site links you up with both goods and services, and is less P2P than a marketplace for small businesses and freelancer. ‘Life is short. Do what you love.’
P2P loans have a bit of a crappy reputation. The default rates a few years ago were higher than credit cards, and the interest is pretty high. Many remain unconvinced about the quality of underwriting.
But things are slowly changing.
Bills itself as the first P2P marketplace in the US. The company has so far extended $535m of loans.
Along with Prosper they temporarily ceased business after the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2008 required P2P lenders to register their offerings as securities. However, since then they’ve re-established themselves. And banks are now getting in on the P2P act, too, with Morgan Stanley dipping its toes in.
A cheeky inclusion. Morgan Stanley, which runs the biggest network of financial advisers in the US, began offering some of its wealth management clients the ability to invest in Lending Club loans earlier this year.
Apparently their underwriting process is automated, takes seconds and requires only four pieces of information from borrowers.
Along with travel, perhaps the most familiar sector for P2P companies. There are startups in car sharing and parking most months, and big players are getting in on the act.
Insurance is again a big issue. Most P2P car networks insure up to around $1million. Although many car insurers will likely pay out over this value, some of them are setting their policies in definite antimony with P2P networks. Considering these networks are likely to grow, I think we’ll see insurers work together on this, but still a tricky subject.
After all, if you make enough to cover insurance and payments, why would you ever sell a car? You could own it and then make money from it, potentially, or at least avoid a loss.
Find a place to park, or let one.
Cars and a stranger on an hourly or daily basis. Insurance, renter verification and screening, and 24/7 roadside assistance included.
Big publicity followed Google’s purchase of Waze, where drivers share real time traffic and road information. More crowd-sourcing than P2P, but a big part of the sharing industry, and similar in ethos to Fon’s prospect, allowing others to use your WiFi, in return for access to the entirety of the world’s hotspots.
‘Wheels when you want them’. A very well established brand now (acquired by Avis for $500million), although not P2P in the sense that the cars are Zip's own. But still collaborative consumption.
An Australian ZipCar
Taxi app that connects you with drivers.
Or you can use a bike with Spinlister - Rent bikes from awesome people.
Anything and everything! Or stuff
Why the hell would you own stuff, when we can live in an uber-fun, sharing, commune where one hoe, one lawnmower, etc is all we need! Problems? I can’t see any.
‘Want it. Get it. Give it back.’
Another Australian service. Rent a trombone or a Whirlpool.
A UK version.
New Zealands flavour.
The good old, crappy noticeboard, essentially.
Sell your haute couture.
Where you can hire a private chef for your dinner party;