Building a sharing economy for San Francisco

Thomas Friedman, one of my favourite writers (go read the world is flat) did an incredible puff piece on Airbnb yesterday for The New York Times.

The comments here are worth reading as much as the piece itself, I see the “sharing economy” now being quoted as the future of everything and I have no belief in it whatsoever’ it appears if you’re not building Airbnb for something or Uber for something you are not moving in the correct direction. What we we tend to see in sharing economy is companies that scale fantastically in tech centric locations like San Francisco but never make it out the door after that. Take for example car sharing started many years ago by Zipcar in the US, now we have Buzzcar, Getaround, RelayRides, Tamyca, Wheelz, WhipCar, we have seen zero growth of these in Europe?

Do people really believe that there is this type of demand?

In the ride sharing world we have even more, erideshare, Avego, ridejoy, zimride and many others, none of these are really working, even Lyft which I used recently in San Francisco which is a Hailo like service has just gotten rid of its ride sharing arm Zimride to concentrate on what is really a taxi business, hell some can’t even calculate the cost of a journey between two Irish cities.

Take Uber for example, now active in 33 cities, lets take an average of 100 rides per city per day total 3300 rides a day (this is probably somewhat accurate) now with an average ride of say $40 and Uber’s cut of 20% you should see turnover for Uber of around $8 million before costs (easy to see where all these billion dollar valuations come from isn’t it?)

Add that to instant delivery services, Airbnb for dogs, taskrabbit and even google enabling lending between friends, I could be wrong, but I don’t think so

Even if I am wrong I am not sending an ice cream van to your office













2 thoughts on “Building a sharing economy for San Francisco

  1. Leslie Poston

    “What we we tend to see in sharing economy is companies that scale fantastically in tech centric locations like San Francisco but never make it out the door after that.”

    Exactly! I live in an outer borough of NYC right now, and even here, we don’t get the benefit of things like Uber, Gigwalk, etc, which thrive in the city: a scant 10 miles away from us. when I lived in NH? Forget it – no sharing will ever make it in that spread out state, or many like it. I can only imagine places outside the US experience the same issue.

    I think ignoring rural economies by focusing on promoting a beneficial sharing economy philosophy only in larger metropolitan areas does us the same disservice as assuming (wrongly) that all people have the same access to broadband, fiber and technological tools like computers. There is a great regional and economic divide that needs to be addressed before these new economies can take hold and be more inclusive than divisive.

    It’s so easy to see the world through the lens of “like me” that technology often does not get developed for the places and people that are in any way different – even if those places and people far outnumber the hubs like San Francisco.

  2. Tom Foremski (@tomforemski)

    Anything that can be shared will be shared. But that doesn’t mean a single company or three will dominate that space. It could be a great local platform. Local sharing for local people (to paraphrase “League of Gentlemen.”)


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