Thursday, September 11, 2014

Waves innovation exhibition opens in Paris - 5 currents of the new economy

The Waves innovation exhibition has opened in La Villette in Paris. It presents 5 currents, which are changing the economy and opening up new types of value creation: Sharing, co-creation, the maker movement, Social enterprise and the circular economy – in my opinion, a set of approaches, which are hard NOT to see as parts of the normal future economy. It's exactly the topic of the We-economy project here in Denmark.
The main content are 20 case-stories from around the world, illustrated with wonderful photographic artwork. The exhibition is housed in an elegant and organic purpose-built 500 square meter pavilion.

For me it has been a great pleasure to work with the team at BNP, to contribute ideas, research and texts – and the result is fabulous, IMHO!
The exhibition will stay in Paris till October 5, and will then travel on around the world, and in France. There is a comprehensive website for the exhibition as well. 

Monday, September 08, 2014

Airbnb co-founder discusses the nuts and bolts of the company on Econ-talk

Nathan Blecharczyk, the CTO and co-founder of Airbnb is interviewed by Russ Roberts of Econtalk. It’s a great interview with lots of insight into the nuts and bolts of Airbnb.
Also, there are some amazing recent facts: There are now 800.000 properties on the platform, and recently 375.000 rooms were rented out in one night. It’s big.

I’ve picked a sequence, where Blecharczyk talks about the turning point of the company, when the founders, at the suggestion from their Y-combinator mentor Paul Graham, went to New York and visited the people who were using Airbnb to rent their flats:

“So, we went to New York, and before we showed up, we called every single user, every single host.
Russ: How many were there?
Guest: About 30.
Russ: Okay. That's 30.
Guest: It was not a monumental task by any means. And we said, How would you like a professional photographer to come by your home and take some pictures? And I think that question was a little bit out of the blue, but people were curious and they said, It's free? Yes. And they said, Okay, sure, why not. And, you have to remember, at this time camera phones weren't that great. They were lower resolution, poorly lit. So we noticed the photos could be better. So we offered to take them, have a professional take them, for free. What ended up happening was that Joe and Brian would go to the camera store, rent the camera for the weekend, and show up themselves, knocking on the door. So the host would open the door expecting the professional photographer, and it was Joe and Brian, the founders of the company. But they let them in anyways, and Joe and Brian took the photos. And while they are in there, sat with them at the computer, showed them how to use the website, got product feedback, as well as invited them to share beers later on. And so we'd get together anywhere from 5-8 people in the evening, have a beer, tell them our story over the last year. And once people had heard the story and gotten to meet us, they became our advantage list. They wanted us to succeed at that point. So much so that even once we came back to San Francisco, we could call them up and give them advice, such as: you really have a beautiful apartment but you've only written a paragraph describing it; could we add a few more paragraphs? Could we perhaps start with your price being lower, and then raise it if you are getting too many inquiries? And so once we had great pictures, lower prices, more complete profiles, and cooperative hosts, that was the special combination. It was then that those properties started getting booked by travelers coming from all around the world. The travelers had great experiences and then would go home to their home cities--Paris, Berlin, Hong Kong--and the guests would oftentimes say, Hey, I want to do this, too. And the guests would become hosts. And so, within months there was a global cross-pollination of the idea in a way that might not be true of other businesses”.

Another quote:
So events are a great catalyst for Airbnb. And just recently during the World Cup down in Brazil, we hosted about 150,000 guests in Brazil. It was actually about 20% of all international visitors, stayed on an Airbnb property. We now have 20,000 properties in the city of Rio. So, Airbnb is a great solution when there's an event that brings an influx of people and there's a lack of the existing hotel capacity to kind of flux and accompany all that”.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Mobilizing small un-used resource - like your car's trunk

It's amazing how the sharing economy can mobilize the smallest idle capacity. Check Cardrop, which offers to deliver package to your car's trunk. So you don't have to worry about staying home to receive that package. 

Monday, September 01, 2014

Man meets woman - in pictograms

Yang Liu, who created the classic comparison of Asian and Western culture in "East meets West", has a new book out on Taschen.
It's about the differences between men and women. Looks like another great collection of deep and very funny insights shown in an extremely simple way. Yang Liu has developed a distinct and effective genre of her own.

Using open data - where's the nearest public toilet?

Clever use of open data, made available by the municipality of Copenhagen and Ã…rhus: An app to locate the nearest public toilet. 

What will you do for $5 - the Fiverr website

At you can get stuff done for five dollars - Voice overs, drawings, videos, search engine optimization...
It seems to be a hard way of making any kind of decent income. Scary, somehow.

$0.007 for a song on Spotify

Interesting to see the figures. Spotify has a section on their website, where they explain the details of their payments. 

Sharing city Seoul - a good overview

An article from the Shareable website gives a good overview of the many initiatives in the ambitious strategy to make Seoul a sharing city. Amazing how much is going on!

Here's a quote: 

"Taken together, it's obvious there's a pressing need to reinvent the city. Seoul is certainly not the only city with these issues. It is, however, fertile ground for the sharing economy to take root. Seoul has built world-class IT and civic infrastructure; it has the highest fiber optic broadband penetration and fastest Internet in the world; it offers free WiFi service in all outdoor spaces; and has the highest smartphone penetration rate in the world at over 67 percent. It also has one of the best subway systems, also wired for high speed Internet.
Using this infrastructure, in addition to strong public-private partnerships, the Sharing City project is working to connect people to sharing services and each other, recover a sense of trust and community, reduce waste and over-consumption, and activate the local economy".

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The basics of the business of platforms

Great interview with Sangeet Paul Chaudhary at Applico. Chaudhary writes a very instructive blog specifically on platforms - it's called Platformed. 
In this interview, he gets to lay out the basics of what platforms are, how they work, and why they are such a strong business model. 

Here's a quote:
"These are the three key shifts that have led to the rise of platforms and the three specific ways that platforms differ from traditional business models:

They are networks, not linear
They allow participation, not just consumption

They rely on data to enable value creation"

Can sharing expand the economy?

Interesting observation in an interview with Arjun Sundararajan

"...when a technological change comes along that makes “production” more efficient, it eventually grows the economy because it creates new opportunities.
The mortgage example is exactly that. It’s more likely that I’ll be able to afford a larger space if I can explicitly factor in the revenue stream that I’ll get from renting it out during the ten days that I’m traveling.  And that is expansive for the economy, not recessionary, because I’m probably going to get more space. People are going to use that space when I’m not there, and that generates commercial activity as well".

Flying under the regulatory radar

Another article – this one in the Boston Globe - examining the uncertain status of people making their living in the sharing economy.
As a driver for Uber or a “tasker” working for TaskRabbit, are you an employee or an independent contractor? The difference is sick leave, health insurance, contribution to your pension..

Here’s a quote:

“If all these start-ups had to hire employees in every city they operate in, their costs would jump — perhaps to the point where they’re not economically viable. And yet if the innovation economy produces companies that have hundreds of thousands of “non-employees” who love the lifestyle, but don’t have unemployment insurance or retirement plans, we’re going to have problems as a state and society”.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Show what you want to share

A super-simple solution for showing your neighbors what you are willing to share: Put a sticker on your mail box that shows it.
The stickers are available from Swiss pumpipumpe.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Who will be the Amazon of sharing?

Why? My guess is that it’s not because investors believe that there’s such an enormous market in private rooms and fancy rides.
Rather, It’s about creating a platform that could become a corner stone in the future economic global landscape. Each of the two has a chance of becoming the Amazon of sharing.
It’s easy to imagine the next steps extending the business model to new areas. Airbnb could start bundling rooms with other services: Cleaning, local transportation, local guides, boats and sports equipment, local meals, and transportation from home and back… They could basically try to cover all aspects of travel by using idle resources and sharing. Indeed, they are already making such extensions.
Likewise, Uber could extend in other directions: luxury services or various other modes of transportation – including air travel.

Whatever the details, this general direction seems obvious. Once you have created a platform for brokering resources, when you have the user interface in place, the apps, the payment structure, the trust mechanisms and a strong brand with lots of traffic, it’s cheap to include other areas of use.
Generally, such platforms have low marginal costs and strong network effects. Everybody wants to be on the platform where everybody else is.
So it’s a game for giants.

One thing I don’t understand, though: Why is EBay just letting this happen?