The Sharing Economy Scam



Posted by Ed 3 mths ago
Bythe mid-2010s, the narrative around the innovative, cure-all sharing economy had started to sour. As platforms banking on “collaborative consumption” edged toward multibillion-dollar valuations, sharing began to feel naive.

“I sort of observed the shift happening beginning in 2016,” says labor attorney Veena Dubal, who was working with freelance taxi drivers in San Francisco before sharing hit the road. “There was a moment of novelty but then a realization that these were the same things. Just much cheaper and unregulated.”

In some instances, the sharing economy appeared to inflame the very problems it purported to solve. The supposed activation of underutilized resources actually led to more, if slightly different, patterns of resource consumption.

A number of studies have shown that the ease and subsidized low cost of Uber and Lyft rides are increasing traffic in cities and apparently pulls passengers away from an actual form of sharing: public transportation. Students at UCLA are reportedly taking roughly 11,000 rides each week that never even leave campus.

In putting more cars on the road, ride-hail companies have encouraged would-be drivers to consume more by buying cars with subprime loans or renting directly from the platforms themselves.

Alongside making it easy to rent out spare rooms, vacation rental platforms encouraged speculative real estate investment.

Whole homes and apartment buildings are taken off the rental market to act as hotels, further squeezinghousing markets in already unaffordable cities.

Sharing didn’t deliver broad financial stability either. The jobs eventually created by the sharing economy were poorly regulated and hastened the broader growth of contract labor, pushing down already low wages for freelancers and employees alike.

A few frequently quoted studies have claimed that soon, most of us will be freelancers. But most of that freelance work appears to be extremely part-time and merely supplemental income, and ride-hail driver turnover in particular is high.


Ed 3 mths ago
The dark side of the sharing economy

The sharing economy: depending on who you ask, it’s the engine of a post-capitalist economy, the poster child of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or the end of consumer civilization as we know it. Truth be told, it’s a bit of each of these claims, yet something unique that’s even more.

As an advisor to sharing companies, policy makers, investors and entrepreneurs over the past several years, I’ve had a seat at the proverbial fifty-yard line: as “access over ownership” has become a new tagline, as governments initially ignored and then became unglued by the realities of regulatory reform, and as a bumper crop of related terms grew up alongside.

Now it’s not only the sharing economy we need to worry about, but the gig economy and on-demand economy too. What next?

Ed 3 mths ago
Sharing has been hijacked

The “sharing economy” is today’s buzzword for Silicon Valley’s most recent batch of billion dollar companies. So ring the headlines: $51 billion valuation for Uber; Chinese ride-hailing business Didi Kuaidi raising $4.42 billion; AirBnB valuation $10+ billion.

In the last three years, the world has embraced this idea of the sharing economy. Who would have thought that a twenty-three year-old part-time student tooling around in her Prius would disrupt the transportation industry?

Or that renting out your spare bedroom with the Star Wars sheets could make you part of the largest hotel network in the world?

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