The Collaborative Economy continues to mainstream –with at least two of the key players launching APIs; this spells significant ecosystem change that will impact commerce, this post will attempt to answer what it means to the greater ecosystem.
[This is as significant as Facebook launching their API and Platform.
This will spur thousands of apps, APIs and new businesses models]
Emerging startups will gravitate toward Uber: This also means that Collaborative Economy Startups that circle Uber’s orbit (there are over 9,000) are more likely to adopt Uber’s API as a way to quickly launch their service on the Uber Network. This fosters more gravitas regarding Uber, creating more pressure on Airbnb and Lyft to quickly follow suit.
Established startups, like Airbnb and Lyft, pressured to launch own API: Expect Lyft and, potentially, Airbnb to signal their API platforms, in this winner-take-all scenario. Several years ago, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Open ID, Plaxo, BestBuy and a few other varieties launched their own APIs, but in the end, Facebook won the war and, therefore, our interest. Airbnb has an entire ecosystem of startups built around them, but must launch an API to keep them connected.
Large Companies get in on the game, revealing mainstream integration. Several large corporations were part of the initial Uber API launch, including TripAdvisor, Hyatt, Starbucks and United Airlines, which signals that crowd-based, on-demand models can enhance local commerce. Uber’s new partners (Hyatt and United) mean that you get seamless travel without waiting in any taxi queues. This deal enhances their overall customer experience by extending to end-to-end travel and logistics, making it easier to do business with these big brands.
Agency and consulting teams should evaluate on-demand business models for clients. Interactive agencies, digital agencies and consulting firms involved in online commerce should sign up for the Uber and Hailo API consideration form to evaluate tying their own clients into these new delivery models.
Social Media Management Systems will seek to integrate. Over the last several years, I’ve closely covered the enterprise social media software players and witnessed the emergence of software companies that connect FB, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks to enterprise systems, CRM, and corporate websites. It’s – happening – again.
Incumbent transportation and logistics companies displaced, again. While it’s obvious to most that this continues to threaten existing taxi companies, travel booking and courier systems, as Uber partners with other businesses that require logistics and transportation, the bigger threat is to traditional commerce.
The biggest threat is to companies like Amazon. In the end, this is a significant threat to Amazon, as Uber can quickly partner with local retailers for push-button delivery, including harnessing the power of their largest investors to tie to Waze, Wallet, Google Delivery and more. Instead of three-day delivery, Uber + local retailers = instant delivery at the local level.
[Any startup, retailer, hotelier or restaurant can now integrate mobile savvy, affluent, Uber customers on their apps and websites.]
Potential Comparison: Facebook to Uber API
This comparison isn’t apples to oranges, but helps to bridge how we think of dominant Facebook connect with potential Uber API features. To be really clear, these Uber API features don’t yet exist, but are possibilities that could be launched in the future. This matrix was added about 24 hours after this initial post.
Social Networking API
Collaborative Economy API (again, some of these don’t exist today, but could in the future)
FB Connect: Register new users in a few clicks. Access to over a billion users.
Uber Connect: Instantly get Uber’s many customers on your physical doorstep.
Graph Search: Find things my friends like.
Uber Ride Search: Find locations my friends like to frequent.
Find Friends: Isolate content that only my Facebook friends like.
Vett Uber Customers: Isolate only five-star riders (the best customers).
Facebook Commerce: Buy credits, gifts and more.
Uber Commerce: Any website can now use Uber’s credit card system.
NewsFeed: Share on Facebook my experiences from other website interactions.
Social network connections: Share my Uber experience on on any social network.
The big takeaways: Quickly get customers to and from your doorstep, period. Uber and potentially Hailo’s API means that local commerce can now benefit from instant ecommerce –and extend end to end customer experience from transportation, hospitality, commerce and more transportation for customers. Any company that wants more customers in their physical location, or wants a delivery service, should evaluate this API for business model extension.
The Collaborative Economy is a complex ecosystem composed of many unique players.
These many players are jostling about, partnering, competing, and disrupting each other. It’s key to understand the many players in this movement before blindly stumbling into this market. This post took weeks to prepare, and it’s my attempt to catalogue a very complex market that has broad, global economic impacts being felt by many people. By no means is this market breakdown complete, so I seek your feedback in the comments.
This space is diverse.
There’s a wide range of political groups: from grandstanding politicians, to left-wing sharing communal hippies, to conservative incumbents resisting the movement, to libertarians seeking as little government regulation as possible as possible. There’s a wide range of social ideologies: There are environmentalists, to people’s rights activists, to technologists fascinated by the latest trends, to local neighborhood leaders, to federal regulators and government leaders. There’s also a wide range of economic classes: from billionaire investors, to bootstrapped entrepreneurs in their 20s, to the working class, to retirees forced to host strangers at their home to avoid foreclosure.
It looks complex to the outsider.
It’s impossible to analyze this market and expect to put each person into one single box. Life is complex, and nearly every person can fit into multiple categories. The sections below are categorized into four major groups: 1) The People, 2) The Technologists, 3) The Established and 4) The Influencers. Each specific group contains a breakdown of its constituents. Thanks to Robin Chase, who provided additional insight into the nonprofits in the space.
This guide will help distill a complex movement.
Ecosystem Guide: The 12 Players of the Collaborative Economy
They seek to make a living, to have a lifestyle where they control their own destiny and have the rights and benefits that should accompany doing so.
They’re potentially at risk of not being insured, protected or providing benefits similar jobs have. Expect them to move closer to organizations, like the Freelancers Union, which offer health and wellness services, retirement options and other resources.
People who buy Etsy goods, Airbnb guests, Uber riders, Lyft passengers and others who purchase the services from Providers.
Focused on the empowerment of people or advancing sustainability, these offer education, resources, and more to this growing market.
These groups are pro-movement, but many are partnered with the startups (Platforms) and large corporations to yield benefits, as well as work closely with regulators to drive action and change.
What they want
What no one tells you
The startups. Airbnb, Lyft, Etsy, TaskRabbit, oDesk, Uber, Lending Club and more. There are over 9000 startups, many regionalized in specific countries or cities.
They want to provide a scalable, two-sided marketplace of buyers and sellers offering value added services. They must protect their interests, those of the partakers and providers. Many are heavily VC funded and have goals for adoption and valuation.
Maximum return on their investments. VCs are known to often want to achieve 5-10X return after 5-10 years of investment.
The requirement for return on equity puts pressure on Platforms to monetize the marketplaces they manage, which, critics suggest, will minimize the abilities of both providers and partakers.
Sharing advocates include both lobbyists hired by the Platforms and non-profits like Peers.
To achieve market acceptance of the benefits of the maker movement, sharing and the impact it has on society, people and the global economy. They seek to educate, foster grassroots and lobbying support, and achieve change from the established.
Hoteliers and taxi commissions have formed associations or hired lobbyists.
To protect the interests and rights of the industries, owners or workers they represent and to ensure a level playing field so that startups do not gain an unfair advantage by avoiding regulations and taxes paid by incumbents.
Multiple journalists have told me that advocates and lobbyists against the movement provide them with stories, data, and research, both for and against this movement.
Municipal, state and federal governments and departments, like the California Public Utilities Commission or the European Union.
To find the balance between supporting innovation and new business models, while, at the same time, protecting the vested interests of industries, current systems, safety and security and to yield taxable monies.
Governments are not all reacting the alike. Some cities adopt quickly. To wit, Airbnb now pays 14% hotel tax to the city of SF. Some cities ban it all together, as Vegas has banned all ride sharing. Feds are also looking at the issues of crowd-based funding and of crowd-created currencies like Bitcoin.
What they want
What no one tells you
Press and Media
The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Salon, TechCrunch, INC, Wired and SFGate, have deployed journalists and columns dedicated to this topic.
To be the leading coverage of this new market as it breaks, providing insight to the impacts and outcomes.
This industry recognizes and distinguishes disruption from collaboration. It was disrupted from peer-to-peer social media over the past 15 years. Now it reports by having adapted to P2P.
To lead the discussion in the market about the benefits and risks of these global and economic changes. Their business models tend to inform and influence by means of writing, speaking, consulting, forming associations, and advancing their investment portfolios.
This is just the start. Expect a wave of thousands of Collaborative experts to emerge, just as we saw the rise of ninjas, gurus, and samurai in the social media space.
Closing Thoughts and a Request for Feedback
In the future, we should expect new players to emerge as unions form for worker rights or new co-ops that enable a new type of startup that straddles both technology and people. Use this guide to help maneuver this ecosystem, rather than blindly charging in. Conducting this market breakdown isn’t easy and the results are not necessarily perfect. I look forward to your feedback in the below comments.
Harvest a thousand ideas. Above photo from popular photographer, and my friend, Thomas Hawk.
Crowdfunding is the highest form of loyalty, but only a few big companies have deployed this crowd strategy.
Big companies can learn from Indiegogo, and Kickstarter. You’ve heard of Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and other crowdfunding platforms for the tech savvy, but what does it mean to corporate product development and marketing strategy? Today’s crowdfunding projects include a panoply of products that never make it to the shelves. I jokingly refer to this as “this decade’s home shopping network,” due to the proliferation of oddball products you didn’t realize you needed. These “long tail” products, are examples of grassroots market innovation offering an opportunity for entrepreneurs to get pre-orders, pre-funding, and free marketing to support future business.
U-Haul Investors Club spurs crowdfunding strategy. For years, marketers have told themselves that repeat sales are the highest form of loyalty, but I’d like propose that we’re now seeing a greater form of loyalty in crowdfunding. Yet, it remains largely an untapped opportunity for large companies to recognize and develop. Take U-Haul Investors Club for example, where the crowd can finance and own parts of the loading equipment, often at better rates than traditional banks. In return, they receive periodic revenue from the performance of these vehicles. It’s safe to assume, that when it’s time for folks to move, U-Haul Investors will use U-Haul’s services, as well as advocate U-Haul to their friends.
GE taps crowd innovation from Quirky. With that said, this is just the first phase of the crowdfunding movement. Expect more refined versions to appear, akin to GE’s Quirky program, where the crowd submits ideas, a smaller team selects the best, then GE’s massive production and supply chain creates and distribute at scale. The inventors who submit ideas benefit from their name being on the box, shared revenues, and a chance to see their brainchild on store shelves – without even going to a fabrication plant.
What are the benefits of Corporate Crowdfunding?
A nearly limitless supply of fresh innovation and ideas. Struggling to get fresh ideas to market? Is your company mandate to foster outside-in innovation? Tap into crowdfunding sources to start your journey for crowd innovation.
Backers pre-pledge to go on the journey with you. These backers are telling entrepreneurs, and even large corporations, that they’re committed for a long period of development in exchange for early access and other perks or financial benefits.
They’re engaged with product development. This engaged community can be counted on for active feedback, although they may likely be representative of a passionate contingent, not necessarily a mainstream audience.
A built-in set of early adopters. In both Kickstarter and Indiegogo, most benefits include perks, which include special services, recognition, or gifts. Some provide early access and a period of exclusivity for the product being funded. Tap these early adopters for feedback and word of mouth.
They’ll naturally advocate the product. Being engaged means to commit fully. These crowd-based backers are invested in your future product with time, money, and even reputation. Assume they’ll advocate your products to their network and beyond.
Opportunities for corporate product strategy. Using the same consumer-type strategies as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, allow the crowd to suggest products, then fund them for potential development, akin to GE’s successful Quirky program, which has now extended beyond consumer electronics to appliances. Allow the crowd to drive the initial discussions and ideation. Allow a system for IP protection, rights and rewards to be shared between independent inventors and your company.
Below Graphic: Crowdfunding behavior set to double Result of 90,000 respondents from my recent research with Vision Critical show that Crowdfunding will double in adoption by the U.S., UK, and Canadian general population.
Corporate crowdfunding is newly charted territory.
What’s the one major downside of Crowdfunding programs? Many project don’t see the light of day and, if they do, they may not become a global success. Additionally, some companies are afflicted with the “if it’s not invented here” syndrome, which limits innovation to only engineers and scientists. Here’s where established brands can help make the right choices, apply the right resources and help both crowds and companies win. Corporations can adopt this new strategy to create a shared destiny with the crowd, fostering a higher form of loyalty through crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding is the highest form of loyalty: shared destiny
(Disclosure: GE is a founding member of my company, Crowd Companies, an association for business leaders at large companies.)
So what’s a marketplace all about? First of all, it’s not a new concept. It predates Airbnb and even the birth of the Internet. The ancient Greeks called them Agoras. Marketplaces go back to the earliest civilizations when farmers and villagers gathered at a common location, usually in a town square. We get the words “agriculture” and “agoraphobia” from the original koine Greek word.
Above Image: Click to see a sample of dozens of marketplaces in six major verticals, read the full post.
These marketplaces can exist anywhere, through mobile, social, Internet of Things, and payment apps. Today, the most common marketplaces, like eBay, Airbnb, Etsy, Lyft, CustomMade and Lending Club, allow just about anyone to offer goods, food, services, transportation, space, and even financial solutions to each other. These are now called “two-sided marketplaces,” which means there are two distinct positions that anyone can take on each trading platform. In fact, any one individual or entity can actually take both positions on some platforms. For instance, people who sell on the eBay platform usually also are buyers on that same platform. The two sides in the two-sided marketplace are
1) Platforms, a system that enables this trade in an efficient manner
2) Providers of resources, someone who offers them.
3) Partakers of these resources, someone who receives them.
Marketplace Examples: Platforms, Providers, and Partakers
Here’s a few examples to help illustrate, using the same categories as the Honeycomb image above.
You may wonder why these marketplace companies (the Platforms) are performing so well. It’s because they enable seamless transactions, regardless of locations or social relationships, and they take a cut of the revenues at scale. They have recurring revenue without owning most of the liability – they are efficient, money-making machines.
Additionally, these platforms offer a number of features that enable smooth transactions, including, but not limited to, inventory management, profiles and reputations of Providers and Partakers, payment systems like Stripe or Braintree, matching software, and marketing services to amplify all services involved. They also offer on-boarding services, customer care, insurance, and lobbying at the government level to further empower their business.
[2014 funding has increased 350% in deal size mainly due to large investments in Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, Lending Club, and BlaBlaCar]
Exactly one year ago, the average funding amount was $29m. In July 2013, I surveyed a sample of 200 startups (read full report). I found that 37% had been funded, with startups receiving an average of $29 million in funding. The 200 had received over $2 billion in total funding, which is a very high amount for a largely undeveloped, pioneer market. Interviews with several of the Venture Capitalists in this space indicated that they favor two-sided marketplaces that are scalable and have low inventory costs
[In 2013, average funding was $29 million. In 2014, the average funding amount is $102 million due to outliers, like Uber, receiving over $1.2 billion]
In the first half of 2014, the average funding amount, is a whopping $102 million. The findings are stunning. I’ve not seen this much investment in tech startups for some time. Some data highlights: In seven short months, there’s been at least 24 distinct funding instances of at least $1 million or more in investment funding. Of those, Uber received the lion’s share of a whopping $1.2 billion in investment for global growth and product expansion. On average, $102 million is the common amount, but if you strip off the Uber investment, Airbnb, Lyft, and Lending Club are lower in investment amount, bringing the average closer to $52 million, which is still very high.
Last Seven Months of Collaborative Economy Funding by Amount
Above image is the same data.
Total investments from in last seven months: 24
Average deals per month in 2014: 3.4
Average funding amount in June 2013 study: $29 million
Average funding amount in last Jan-July 3, 2014: $102.6 million
Median funding in last seven months: $14 million
Average Funding Amount (excluding Uber) in last seven months: $52.6 million
Total Amount of Funding in last seven months: $2.46 billion
Increase in funding amount per investment in 12 months: 351%
Conclusion: Investors love the Collaborative Economy – But will it bust? So, why are investors betting big on the Collaborative Economy? These scalable business models run on top of highly adopted social and mobile technologies. They offer a high frequency of transactions, with low operating costs. They are also disrupting traditional corporate business models, as they are more efficient by leveraging internet of everything, mobile devices, apps, and payment platforms. Neal Gorenflo reminded me that these startups cause the incumbents to wail in the media, creating incredible low cost PR value, which in turn attracts more customers.
In summary: Investors expect these startups to be highly profitable and are betting down big.
This successful expansion of applications begs the question, “Can the sharing model work for individual professionals?” Not only will it work, it already does work. Now that these services are available for personal use, we’re also seeing them expand into the business world. These services help professionals outsource tasks in their work life so they can focus on their core responsibilities and competencies.
Here’s a list of collaborative economy services targeting business professionals. As you’ll see, this market isn’t just about ride sharing and home sharing. If you know of other similar services, please share them as comments below.
Fon hotspots in Paris, France. Photo credit: NRKBeta.
AirPR: On-demand PR professionals in two-sided marketplaces of providers and communication buyers, AirPR tracks actionable insights into what is, or is not, driving engagement.
CloudPeeps: On-demand community managers, ready to help your company scale up for launches or during seasonal periods. CloudPeeps provides the services of experienced professionals to assist with everything from startups and small businesses to mature enterprises on an as-needed basis at a fraction of the cost of a full-time manager.
Trunk Club: Are you a busy, male executive who wants to present yourself as stylish and professional?Personal stylists are available to help you look your best. Trunk Club sets up a profile for you, then saves you time by sending you a new “trunk” of clothes selected especially for you on a regularly scheduled basis. Keep and pay for what you like. Return the rest. It’s shopping at its best.
Sprig delivers inexpensive hot meals on demand to you or your employees, or you and your boss, or you and your family, within a few minutes in the San Francisco area. This is not fast food. These are hand-crafted meals created by former Google executive chef Nate Keller. And, yes, there is an app for this service, too.
The collaborative economy is exploding, reaching into all areas of life and work. These services enable any professional to have access to a broad marketplace of talent without having to hire them on a full-time basis. On the flip side, it enables the providers to set their own schedule, work on projects they want, and have more control over their work life balance. Even the invention of sliced bread was not as good as this.