Collaborative Economy Industry News, Oct 1, 2014


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British Parliament to Review Effects of Sharing Collaborative Economy
Business and Enterprise Minister, Matt Hancock, said that, “These new business models put money into households the length and breadth of the country. I want to make sure that the UK is front and centre of that, competing with San Francisco to be the home of these young tech startups.” The review will be limited to considering the impact of the sharing economy on consumers and businesses with which sharing startups compete. Debbie Wosskow is leading the review. She is the founder of Love Home Swap, which claims to be the largest home-sharing company in the world. Read more.

Sir Richard Branson Invests in Sidecar
Iconic visionary, Sir Richard Branson, has invested in Sidecar as part of the company’s most recent round of funding. Although Sidecar commands only 7% of the ride-sharing market in San Francisco versus Lyft’s 30% and Uber’s 61%, both the $15 million funding round and Branson’s participation in it add credibility to Sidecar’s strategic growth plans. Branson answered any questions regarding his choice to invest in Sidecar when he said, “It has been reported this is a winner-takes-all market, but it’s not. These are early days and, like a lot of other commodity businesses, there is room for innovators on great customer experiences. An entrepreneurial company like Sidecar can take on the big guys with innovation and big ideas, not just big bank accounts.” Read more.

Westin Creates Workspace Sharing Niche with Tangent
Traditional corporate institutions must be resilient in the face of the sharing economy. It is becoming more and more evident that the best way to offset disruption is by recognizing the unique needs that competitive startups are meeting. Westin Hotels and Resorts are showing their resiliency by offering Tangent, a new, turnkey workspace-sharing service. Rooms, available by the hour and stylishly-equipped with a high-tech electronics and low-tech equipment, like floor-to-ceiling whiteboards, offer instant workspace on-demand for up to four people. Instead of a communal workspace offered by many hotels, customers can now rent fully-equipped, private spaces, whether they are otherwise guests of the hotel or not. Read more.

Sharing Economy Insurance is Fuzzy
Like any other endeavor, sharing economy services and customers need to have clarity about insurance requirements and coverages. Services must protect themselves against potential damages and liabilities. California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill making liability insurance a requirement for ride-sharing services to provide minimum amounts of coverage for drivers who are signed in to their operating app. Property owners who share space in their homes for a fee may require some form of business insurance in addition to their homeowner’s insurance. Service users may want to ensure in advance that they know for what, if any, damages to homes, vehicles, and any other shared real or personal property they could be held accountable. Read more.

Airbnb Will Collect Occupancy Tax in San Francisco
Airbnb has agreed to charge the 14% occupancy tax required of hoteliers by the City of San Francisco. This is the second city with which it has reached such an agreement. Portland and San Francisco could be a harbinger of things to come for Airbnb and the sharing economy in general. The bigger a disrupter becomes, the more attention it draws from competitors, politicians and bureaucrats. Competitors appeal to the politicians for a level playing field, which is often also to the benefit of the bureaucracy as the startup becomes a source of revenue from fees and taxes. Sharing services may have to create and rely on competitive advantages other than cost of services to successfully differentiate themselves from the traditional companies that they are becoming more like. Read more.

Maker Movement Producers First Functional 3D Car
The Strati is the world’s first carbon-fiber, 3D printed car. The sporty two-seater features a Renault Trizy electric engine. The entire car was printed over 44 continuous hours. The car was built as a collaborative project between Local Motors, the Association for Manufacturing Technology Oakridge Laboratories and Cincinnati Incorporated, exemplifying the concept of the Maker Movement. This prototypical, working vehicle is unprecedented, eliminating literally thousands of bill of material components and the cost of special tooling necessary for manufacturing conventional vehicles. Read more.

Crowdfund Instead of Flowers
The true spirit of crowdfunding may be best illustrated by an increasing trend where people are coming together to meet a need in a desperate situation. That situation is the untimely death of a loved one and the need is to pay for the funeral. No one (except the funding site) profits from this demonstration of people with means helping people without. Although many in need are using Indiegogo and GoFundMe, new specialty crowdfunding sites have arisen recently, including FuneralFund and Graceful Goodbye. Although some campaigns offer some memento in return for financial support, crowdfunding final expenses, goes far beyond the question of “What’s in it for me?” Read more.


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