Collaborative Economy Industry News: Sept 13

This ongoing series compiles key industry news in the Collaborative Economy, with a special focus on the impact to large companies.

Verizon Set to Launch Auto Share –and Beyond: Verizon has announced that it expects to release it Auto Share app by the end of 2014. Although described as peer-to-peer, it might better be defined as P2B. Verizon is in the process of signing up rental car companies which will be expected to digitally connect selected vehicles to the service for which Verizon will charge a fee. The app will be downloadable to consumers who will use it to locate available vehicles nearby. When they arrive at the location of the car, they use the app’s QR utility to scan the VIN number and complete the transaction on their smartphone, which then becomes, in effect, the fob that unlocks the doors and starts the engine. Note: Verizon is a founding member of Catalyst Companies. Read more.

Daimler Acquires Ride-Sharing Companies: Moovel, a division of Daimler, the third-largest manufacturer of luxury cars (by sales), has acquired RideScout and Intelligent Apps as it transforms it business model to include the sharing economy. Intelligent Apps operates the popular myTaxi app. Daimler initially acquired 15% of myTaxi in 2012. Daimler CEO Robert Henrich said that the objective of the acquisitions is “the expansion of our leadership role in the international market and to continue our pioneering efforts to radically simplify the future of mobility.” Expect the German company’s approach to be different than Uber, whose service has been declared illegal in Germany. Read more.

PayPal Preparing to Accept Bitcoin: PayPal used the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco to announce that it is preparing to allow its merchants, which includes eBay sellers, to accept bitcoin cyber-currency. The processing will be handled by by PayPal’s Braintree subsidiary and Coinbase, a leading bitcoin wallet. Although a recent Bloomberg poll showed that 55% of those surveyed were skeptical of cyber-currency, the PayPal/ Coinbase has the potential to change the dynamic by making bitcoin more widely used and accepted. Disclosure: Paypal is a founding member of Catalyst Companies. Read more.

Nesta Studies the UK Collaborative Economy: Nesta is a British not-for-profit whose mission is to help people bring great ideas to life. As a joint effort with Collaborative Labs, Nesta has released a 49-page report entitled Making Sense of the UK Collaborative Economy. The report identifies five defining traits and four “pillars of activity” of the collaborative economy in its Executive Summary and goes into depth in the report itself, describing the UK leaders in the movement and explains the roles that each one plays. Read more.

Toyota to Display at NYC Maker Faire: Toyota is set to unveil its new U2 concept vehicle on 20 September 2014 at the Maker Faire in New York City. If that sounds a little out of place,  Sherry Huss, VP and co-founder of Maker Faire, sees is as a demonstration of a major corporation “leveraging the growing Maker movement and Makers’ broad sphere of influence [to] impact the success of consumer brands and future products. The U2 is best described as “a flexible, functional gadget that owners can customize according to individual, on-the-go needs.” It has been referred to as an urban utility vehicle that validates the Maker Movement as “a viable economic force.” Read more.

Equity Crowdfunding Is Gaining Interest: Crowdfunding has come to real estate, and it doesn’t look like your average Kickstarter campaign. Until now investment in real estate required either deep pockets or, for the man on the street, participating in a REIT. Investors and developers are finding new opportunities through crowdfunding. Most of the current opportunities involve restorations or restructuring of existing, cash-flow generating entities. Individual investor funds are pooled together and packaged as a single investment that will be held for a specified period of time, but which will also generate double digit returns. The Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs set an example when it announced that it had sold a 15% equity stake for an investment of $1.5 million crowd-funded by 85 investors. Read more.

Qanda Technology Expands with Carmavan: Qanda Technology owns and operates Rentoid and DriveMyCar Rentals. Each is the largest peer-to-peer service of their kind in Australia. The acquisition of Carmavan will move the company into a relatively untouched niche: peer-to-peer renting of privately-owned recreational vehicles. Most privately-owned RVs – or caravans, as they are known in Australia, sit idle and unused most of the time. Think of an RV as a mobile condominium, and it just makes sense to rent it out to generate cash flow. This is really what the collaborative economy is all about. Read more.

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