Collaborative Economy Market Update, April 16th, 2015

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Welcome, this industry newsletter shares key market changes, in a twice-monthly publication, curated by Jeremiah Owyang, Founder of Catalyst Companies™, you can subscribe to the email newsletter on the footer of the homepage.

Etsy Launches IPO on Nasdaq: Today is April 16, 2015. It is early morning in New York and the markets are not yet open. When they do, sometime during the trading day, Etsy, the artisanal online marketplace, will float its initial public offering at an opening price of $16.00 per share. At an offering of 16.7 million shares, the company’s valuation will be $1.8 million. Paying homage to its roots and its vision, the IPO has been structured to allow 15% of the shares to small investors for a spend of up to $2,500 each. More information is available at the Wall Street Journal.

BlaBlaCar Continues Expanding with Two New Acquisitions: French ride-hailing company, BlaBlaCar has acquired Germany-based Carpooling.com and Hungary-based AutoHop. These acquisitions continue the company’s successful expansion strategy of making “a lot of small acquisitions, because that’s the best way to find talented entrepreneurs who are passionate about the industry,” according to COO Nicolas Brusson. BlaBlaCar, which offers shared rides from city to city, now has 20 million members who are engaging in two million rides per month. Detailed coverage is available at TechCrunch.

Investors Pour Money into Alternative Lending Platforms: The funding of new lending platforms just keeps pouring in. We watched three major stories unfold in just two days so far in April, and each recipient is based in the San Francisco area.  ApplePie Capital raised $34 million to help fund its platform for lending exclusively to small franchise operations. Patch of Land, a crowd-based, real estate lender raised $23.6 million. But the headliner has to be the $165 million raised by Prosper Marketplace. Adding irony to Prosper’s infusion is that this round included strategic investors, some of which have considered Prosper as a competitor in the past.

PriceWaterhousCoopers Releases Sharing Economy Survey Results: PWC is saying that the sharing economy is “an undeniable trend” after releasing the results of its recent survey. Of the 1,000 participants, 43% agreed that they consider owning things to be a burden, whilst 83% agreed that sharing makes life “more convenient and efficient.” On the other hand, as many as 69% indicated that they have trust issues that need to be overcome before becoming users. The trust issue was viewed as the most significant to overcome on the road to a successful, global sharing economy. On the other hand, the driving force seems to be a combination of increasing shared usage resulting in less personal debt stress and less negative environmental impact. Read more at re/code.

Baidu Investing in Ride-Sharing Startups: Baida, the world’s largest search engine company, has made investments in two Chinese ride-sharing apps during the second week of April as it seeks to gain control of a larger share of the mega-companies that are arising out of the sharing economy. Although the amount invested in Tiantian Yongche and 51 Yongche is currently undisclosed, it is in the tens of millions. Baidu has already invested in Uber. Interestingly, Sequoia Capital is also an investor in the two Chinese startups. Baidu’s initial play is to get into the market to compete successfully against entities backed by Alibaba and Tencent. These are strategic investments designed to set up for future mergers and acquisitions that will put control of the “consumer friendly” ride-sharing into the hands of global powerhouses. Check out the story in the South China Morning Post.

Solar Power Joins the Sharing Economy: Amit Rosner, CEO of Yeloha says that the mission of the company that he co-founded is “To create and accelerate the confluence of the sharing economy and solar energy.” His company has recently received $35 million in venture capital funding to launch into the P2P marketplace with solar energy. The company is promoting the installation and use of solar panels through the creation of Sun Hosts and Sun Partners. Those who are willing to become hosts are incentivised with free installation. Neighbors who cannot, or do not wish to, install panels may sign up as partners, allowing them to purchase solar power from the guy next door. Although the cost and green benefits are obvious, readers may want to learn more at treehugger.com.

Image by JD Hancock used under Creative Commons license.

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