Taskrabbit’s PAs à la carte.
An article on USA Today recounts how Americans are beating the economic doldrums and using tech to meet the needs of others — exchanging homestays, cars, tools and services — without the gray-suited middleman.
The trend’s called “collaborative consumption” or “the sharing economy”: an intersection of social networking, mobile tech, a movement toward minimalism and, frankly, a new frugality. Much in the spirit of Craigslist and eBay, these community-orienting services profit where their predecessors didn’t with scale, more reliable service quality and marketing prowess — all enabled by how technology has advanced.
Firms like Airbnb enable people all over the world to sublet their apartments to credible renters while they’re out of town for short stints. For more bohemian travelers or hosts, CouchSurfing lets you offer a room or even just a couch to a voyager. Time-deprived? TaskRabbit matches people with freelance temporary assistants who’ve passed criminal background checks. And RelayRides or Getaround let you rent your car to others, or simply carshare.
“It’s basically about moving to a world where access triumphs over ownership, and that unused value — things sitting in my garage — equals waste,” says Lisa Gansky, who has a list of over 6600 other “sharing economy” platforms on her site, Meshing.IT.
The profits aren’t mind-boggling yet, but they’re starting to add up. Founder Craig Shapiro of Collaborative Fund says, “TaskRabbit has (people) making over $5,000 a month in San Francisco.” Temporary jobs or tasks posted per month at the task site tripled in the last year alone. Meanwhile, Airbnb’s booked 10 million nights since it was founded four years ago, with the average customer age rising to 35 — an indication of service quality and a sign that “people are telling their parents,” says CEO Brian Chesky.