The Shared Economy: Doing Business With the Joneses

On Thursday, Leah sat down with some of the leaders of the collaborative consumption movement for a frank talk at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Moderator Liz Gannes, Senior Editor of All Things Digital, kicked off the evening by asking author Lisa Gansky how she first identified sharing as a movement. The author of The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing chalked collaboration up to way more than a trend, attributing the rise in sharing-based businesses to the 2008 recession.

TaskRabbit Anne M. baked cookies to share with Commonwealth Club attendees.

“Things that we value that go unused, actually in that moment are wasted,” said Gansky. “It’s more convenient and less costly to share or gain access than to own.”

Panelist Shelby Clark, Founder and Chief Community Officer of RelayRides, agreed that “rational triggers” like price and convenience are the initial draw for consumers, but that it’s the community that keeps them coming back.

The evening’s discussion ended with an eye toward the future, with each panelist imagining where the sharing economy might lead. Although he admits it’s fun to imagine the Marty McFly hoverboard vision of transportation’s future, Clark believes that providing the right transit at the exact right moment is what’s in store, and what his company can achieve.

Nate Blecharczyk, Co-Founder and CTO of Airbnb, hopes his company will promote better connectivity between people and communities, making the world a smaller place. Gansky shares this vision, predicting the shared economy will facilitate diving deep into other cultures.

Cory Smith, CEO of Hub Bay Area, predicts that companies like his will provide a way for people with incredible ideas to better organize the experience of executing them.

Leah Busque with Moderator Liz Gannes

When it was her turn, Leah chose to respond with a call to action instead of a forecast. “I have a way we can all change the future right now, and it’s by paying it forward.” She then challenged every member of the audience to share a skill with someone else tomorrow.

For those who weren’t able to attend last week’s talk, we invite you to participate in this action: share a skill or a talent with someone you know today. Or maybe someone you don’t know. Dole out favors, see what happens. Pretend we live in a time when it’s not unusual to help out a neighbor. You’ll be astounded by what we’ve been missing.

jamiev2014

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