The sharing economy

| Print |  Email
Articles - June 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

By Christina Cooke

0613 TheSharingEconomy 01
Milos and Tijana Jovanovic rent out the downstairs level of their Portland duplex on sharing websites like Airbnb for $110 to $130 a night. They're currently booked out three months. "It's nice additional income and not that much work."
// Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

I’m no stranger to borrowing in the most traditional sense. I check out books from the library, rent cars on vacation and forage through my sister’s closet when my own wardrobe seems stale. But I’m a novice when it comes to the modern-day borrowing possibilities — which, on their current trajectory, have the potential to upend long cherished notions about buying and selling.

Known as the “sharing economy” or “collaborative consumption,” the latest form of sharing challenges the status quo with the idea that access trumps ownership — that drilling the hole is more important than owning the drill. Rather than buying items outright, practitioners of the new model purchase short-term access, either from a company with a fleet or a neighbor with a for-rent supply of consumer items or services.

In Portland, for example, more than 500 people rent out spare bedrooms on the space-sharing platform Airbnb — including more than 65 within 15 blocks of my house in an inner southeast neighborhood. More than 1,100 vehicles around town are up for borrow through services like Zipcar, Car2Go, RelayRides and Getaround — including more than 80 within a mile of me this very moment.

On numerous other websites based in Portland and around the country, budding entrepreneurs rent out random oddities like sewing machines, pasta makers and cruiser bikes, and arrange service swaps like, “You plumb my sink; I teach you Spanish.”

Rooted in age-old American principles of community and thrift, today’s sharing economy is a modern-day phenomenon, possible only because the Internet and mobile technology can facilitate frictionless exchanges between owners and renters using “reputation verification” systems, which appraise users’ online reputations, as well as maps and satellite positioning technology. Developed because people could not afford to sustain the hyperconsumptive patterns that led to the global financial crisis in 2008, the sharing economy is also about practicality — and the creation of new business models that capitalize on efficiency and pragmatism.

Collaborative consumption encourages spending at the community level, fulfills people’s desires to connect with their neighbors and betters the environment by squeezing the most out of our resources. Yet because it opposes the well-established American paradigm that encourages individual ownership — house, picket fence, SUVs — sharing faces a number of challenges from the mainstream.

Will this emergent economy be a flash in the pan, or will the monetization of sharing become yet another disruptive business model, radically changing how the country thinks about buying and selling? From my home base in Portland, fertile ground for the new economy, I decide to find out.



 

Comments   

 
Guest
0 #1 Jeff GGuest 2013-06-11 06:18:04
Thanks for this information! This is really interesting. I had no idea any of these services existed. I'll definitely be looking into this. Great article!
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

The Private 150: From Strength to Strength

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Revenues in Oregon's private, for profit sector maintained solid growth as the economy continued to rebound.


Read more...

Big Trouble in China?

Guest Blog
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
0818-wellmanthumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

Earlier this month, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) announced they were going to devalue their currency, the Renminbi. While the amount of the targeted change was to be roughly 2 percent, investors read a lot more into the move. The Renminbi had been gradually appreciating against the U.S. dollar (see chart) as to attempt to alleviate concerns of being labeled a currency manipulator.


Read more...

Aim High

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

We get the education we deserve.


Read more...

Quake as metaphor

Linda Baker
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
071515-earthquakia-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Big One serves as an allegory for Portland, a city that earns plaudits for lifestyle and amenities but whose infrastructure is, literally, crumbling.


Read more...

Loose Talk

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

When gossip crosses the line.


Read more...

Storyteller in Chief: Natural Prophets

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY SAM BLACKMAN

Storyteller-in-chief with the CEO and co-founder of Elemental Technologies.


Read more...

Photo Log: Shooting 10 innovators in rural health care

The Latest
Monday, August 03, 2015
007blogBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

You may have noticed the photos of our rural health innovators departed from the typical Oregon Business aesthetic.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS