Saturday 17 October, 14.00 until 15.30, Frobisher 4-6, Barbican The New Industrial Revolution?
Depending on where you’re sitting, Uber is either a brilliant innovation, making hiring a taxi cheap and easy, or the embodiment of evil, cannibalising existing taxi revenues. Uber is one of many new kinds of businesses that are part of what is known as the sharing economy. AirBnB (room rentals), ZipCar (car sharing), JustPark (drive-way rentals), Zopa (peer-to-peer money lending) and NeighborGoods (lending tools), are some of many examples where private individuals and small businesses have sought to capitalise on their assets in new ways.
Uber is said to be worth over $40 billion, and PwC suggests the global sharing economy is worth £9 billion and is set to rise to a massive £230 billion by 2025. The prediction is that 70 per cent of the UK population would share their idle assets if it were easy to do so. For example, right now in the UK, 20,000 people are renting out their driveways through JustPark, each making an average of £465 per year. But as well as making a few extra quid, enthusiasts argue the sharing economy can also help rebuild trust between hitherto atomised individuals. John Zimmer, co-founder of the car-sharing business Lyft, claims, ‘people are craving real human interaction—it’s like an instinct. We now have the opportunity to use technology to help us get there’.
Nevertheless, the sharing economy has taken off in a sustained period of depressed economic growth, which has driven many to seek extra income. So will the sharing economy be able to command the significant investment needed to transform these new ideas into whole new industries or sectors? Or, rather than being genuinely innovative, are these firms and initiatives merely piggybacking on existing business models, with the advantage of having lower or no overheads? Are companies like Uber right to circumvent or ignore existing regulations or do they need to be reined in? Is enthusiasm about the sharing economy making us blind to the much harder task of genuine economic innovation?
business, economics and personal finance journalist, BBC; writer and speaker
CEO, Clerkswell; author, The UK After The Recession
chief sharer, Compare and Share; global sharing economy expert
chair, digital network Cybersalon; co-founder, Cyberia, world’s first internet café; co-author, An Alternative Future High Street for the UK minister for high streets
digital business consultant and writer; co-author, Big Potatoes: the London manifesto for innovation
Uber causes a storm wherever it goes. First, there’s the storm of applause as passengers initially embrace what looks like an exciting, disruptive new technology. Then, there’s the storm of protest as people start to understand what the business model is really all about.Catherine Faiers, City AM, 31 July 2015
Without us noticing, we are entering the postcapitalist era. At the heart of further change to come is information technology, new ways of working and the sharing economy. The old ways will take a long while to disappear, but it’s time to be utopianPaul Mason, Guardian, 17 July 2015
A lot of what is called Sharing is not really Sharing, Much of what is claimed to be new about the Sharing Economy is not really new, and the Sharing Economy, however defined, is not a solution to the big economic problems we face.Rob Killick, UK After the Recession, 20 February 2015
The launch of a new report that considers the progress and potential of the UK's collaborative economyNESTA, September 2014
The sharing economy has come on so quickly and powerfully that regulators and economists are still grappling to understand its impact. But one consequence is already clear: Many of these companies have us engaging in behaviors that would have seemed unthinkably foolhardy as recently as five years ago.Jason Tanz, Wired, 23 April 2014
Five years ago, everybody was excited about the idea of using tech to borrow things like power drills. In practice, though, not so much.S. Kessler, FastCompany
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