Evolution of the Sharing Economy

The sharing economy is booming! The sharing economy is dead. The sharing economy has been resurrected and redefined! Over the past year, the sharing economy has been on a massive roller coaster in the media. Reports of its death may have been exaggerated, but it is hard to dispute the fact that it is changing. In April 2015, social media was afire with a simple yet compelling message about the rise of leading companies that owned no tangible assets. It included the lines “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles.” and, “Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.” Today, neither of these statements are true. Last week, Uber announced that it will begin testing driverless cars in Pittsburgh. Hidden behind the fanfare was the fact that this Uber service isn’t just any “contractor” with a Tesla, but a fleet of specialized vehicles that Uber owns, or is at least responsible for. Two weeks earlier, at House Vision 2016 in Tokyo, Airbnb unveiled the first building that it owns, or at least has an official stake in. Neither development offers a clear cut example of traditional ownership, but both offer insight into a future of new partnerships and greater investment in physical assets. The sharing economy isn’t dead, but it is evolving as quickly as it is growing. The outcome is likely to have a big impact on how we live, move and earn income.


Mitchell Reardon

Mitchell Reardon is the TH!NK by IBI blog curator, a land use planner and urban experimenter. His interdisciplinary work centres on people and how they live, work and move through the city. Mitchell is enjoying life in Vancouver, after 6 years of living and working in Stockholm, Sweden. Catch up with him on Twitter: @MitchellReardon

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