A New Industry: These Groups Love Freelancers


Carpool Rideshare Programs CommuteSMARTSeacoast
A new industry is birthing to serve ride sharing drivers, Airbnb hosts, Freelancers, Taskrabbits, and Makers.

A booming market emerges: The Freelancer Economy is predicted to be 40% of the American workforce in just five years, and the startups that power them have been funded over $10B – and a whole new class of organizations have emerged to support, empower, and connect freelancers.

Over the last decade, the Social Media industry birthed many groups to serve content providers. The birth of the social media industry resulted in many realizing that the audience gave way to participants. Nearly everyone is now creating, sharing, chatting, rating and ranking alongside the mainstream media. Just as we saw in the social media and blogging industry the rise of organizations to cater to these new influencers, such as BlogHer, Federated Media, Clever Girls, Glam and IZEA to offer events, gifts, sample products, services, and more, we’re beginning to see it repeat.

The Collaborative Economy industry is birthing many groups to help service providers. That same metaphor is now repeating in the Collaborative Economy. Individuals, called “micro-entrepreneurs” or “freelancers” or “Makers” or “hosts/drivers/taskrabbits” are now creating their own goods and experiences, alongside Fortune 500 companies. To help standardize the language being used in the Collaborative Economy, these folks are called Providers, who offer rides, homes, goods, and services to Partakers, learn more about the three Ps, on this definitive post.

Social Media vs Collaborative Economy: Reach and Intimacy

Trusted Peer Cohort Reach Intimacy
Social Media Influencers, Bloggers, and YouTube celebs. High, they can reach thousands to millions of eyeballs in a single tweet, and with engagement, a network effect. Low, they’re unable to have meaningful converations with all of their following.
Providers, Freelancers, Airbnb Hosts, and RideShare Drivers. Low, they can only reach those in proximity they’re working with. High, since peers trust them for rides and experiences, they’ll trust them for recommendations of other offerings.


The following organizations and startups provide services, goods, tools, community, and even activism for these new Providers:

    • Freelancers Union: Founded over a decade ago in NY, this organization has 254,000 members. They offer wellness centers, insurance, training, and community. They have a thriving community, physical centers, and offer a variety of financial services products. We have been pleased to host Freelancers Union at Crowd Companies events and member webinars.
    • Peers.org. Originally founded as an activist group to promote sharing, backed by some of the popular startups, they’ve recently shifted to a new direction under a new leader, after criticism for astroturfing. Meet Shelby Clark. Under his direction, this organization is now an online marketplace that offers services and products, to hosts, drivers, and others, including their own insurance programs for ride sharing providers.
    • Get kungfu: This interesting startup powers the Collaborative Economy and helps Providers find the right gigs and jobs that match their lifestyle, skills, and more. I had the opportunity to learn from this growing startup on a briefing call, and was interested to hear about their early adoption numbers.
    • Groove: This newly emerged organization offers a clubhouse for ride sharing drivers, a place to take bathroom breaks, get food, and other services. I had the pleasure of meeting Manny after reading this article covering Groove from Carolyn Said, of the SF Gate. Manny shared with me his broader ambitions for the emerging ecosystem of drivers bubbling up.
    • Zampl: A new startup in SF, offers ride sharing Providers and drivers local artisan goods to sample and to share with their passengers, fostering word of mouth from trusted drivers. This player reminds me of Izea, offering sponsored conversations in the new economy.
    • Ride Share Guy, a popular blog written for ride sharing drivers (the Providers). Harry Campbell, offers nearly daily media, podcasts, and tips and tricks for this growing workforce. Harry has been open in communication with me. He reaches out to the community to source predictions from the broader industry.
    • Analytics Players: There’s a fast-rising set of new startups emerging that offer services, analytics, and more to the hosts, drivers, and freelancers in this market. They include, but are not limited to: ZettaDriverSherpaShare, and Whats The Fare for drivers. But also, RateCoaster, Smart Host, Beyond Pricing, and Everbooked for home hosts.  See this broader list of startups on the Collaborative Economy Honeycomb 2 Infographic.
    • Gas4Ads: This startup provides ads in exchange for money, a clear cut sponsorship programs for Uber and Lyft drivers. I’m expecting to see iPad versions emerge, perhaps a sleeker and less obtrusive version as the NY cabbie forced karaoke experience.
    • There are dozens, if not hundreds, of online communities for drivers and hosts, including this closed Facebook group for Uber drivers who often share their wins, challenges, and gripes with their role. It’s a closed group, so you’ll need to request access. Also, see UberPeople, a very active forum of raw discussion from and about drivers and the industry. I was introduced to this group from this cabby on twitter, @chi1cabby.
    • Update: Intuit and Stripe partner to help on-demand workers manage their expenses and taxes. Added Jan 26th, 2015, Intuit as a customer of my company, Crowd Companies.
    • Update: Traity, a reputation platform for the collaborative economy, launched a new Android App called Markets that enables providers and freelancers to find gigs they can work, added on Feb 2, 2015.
    • Update: Zen99 is financial software for freelancers. 1099 tax help for rideshare drivers, delivery drivers, housekeepers, web developers, photographers, real estate agents, and more.

This brief listing (I’m sure we’re leaving out many other players) indicates there’s an entire industry being birthed to serve the Providers (hosts, drivers, makers, cooks, couriers, and rabbits). This offers incredible opportunities for connecting to this ecosystem to learn from them, support them, but also to provide new resources, offerings, sponsorships, and more to enable this rising class of workers. If you’re working at a very large company, learn more about this space by joining my organization, Crowd Companies.

(Photo by Porsche Jones, used with Creative Commons license)

Collaborative Economy Spreadsheets: Funding, Industry Stats, Brand Deployments


As part of our ongoing research on the Collaborative Economy industry, we collect, analyze, and forecast where this market is heading. In the spirit of transparency and sharing, we openly share this data with the open market.

Each of the three sheets are in continual production and improvement. They don’t stay static for long. Although you cannot edit the online sheets, you can download the files, then edit, splice, or use in your own presentations at will.

The first sheet, Startup Funding in the Collaborative Economy, is the most developed, with over a dozen tabs, which include analysis, graphs, and more. The second two, are works in progress. As the data in both fills up, we continue to analyze data, for charting.

In any case, please bookmark this page. If you found it useful, please share it with others on social media or email.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 6.21.45 AM
Above: This mature sheet features a comprehensive aggregation of funding in this market, which has ballooned to over $10 billion in a few short years. The workbook has multiple sheets for viewing by market and industry type, funding size, trends by date, and more.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 6.21.59 AM
Above: This newly-birthed sheet is still in its infancy. The goal is to collect stats for 2014 and enable it to be sortable for easy reference. I conducted a similar project in 2013, which is outdated, but serves as a useful benchmark for the early days of this market.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 6.22.11 AM
Above: Over a year ago, I started a timeline of brands (first edition) deploying in this market, launched an updated (second edition) version, and designed it to convert into a Google sheet that can be scored and used to derive case frequency information. The analysis is completed and graphs will emerge, shortly.

If you seek more in-depth information, please check out my Body of Work on the Collaborative Economy, a comprehensive starting point to all my publications. If you work at a large corporation, consider joining Crowd Companies, the council I created, focused solely on this topic.

As much as I personally enjoy analyzing markets in order to understand what it all means, and enabling decision makers to chart the landscape, this practice is also useful for understanding where things are likely to head over the coming years in this exploding market. I look forward to your feedback.

Crowd Companies: The Year in Review and Planning for 2015


Crowd Companies Logo

It’s the end of the year. This post is a reflection of the Collaborative Economy market and Crowd Companies in 2014, as well as a look towards what lies ahead.

The Collaborative Economy was a leading business topic of 2014. Over the past year, the Collaborative Economy movement has gained more attention from mainstream media, seen incredible pushback from the incumbents like taxi companies and obtained tremendous amounts of funding, while some startups created situations that left them exposed to intense scrutiny. Meanwhile, adoption by the public was forecasted to double (my findings on WSJ), it expanded into nearly every aspect of society, and shows no signs of decline. It truly is a movement in every regard.

Crowd Companies, has experienced over 100% growth. The council I founded, Crowd Companies, is now one year old, and we’ve also shown notable growth. We’re a membership for visionary leaders of innovative at large, established companies who want to embrace this movement – not be disrupted by it. We connect our members to a community of peers, industry experts and startups who are ready to partner. We host in-person and online events, and provide an archive of resources. If you work at a large company and want to learn more about our services, email me at jeremiah@crowdcompanies.com

The company has grown (see about page) and I’m joined by two full time team members, Angus Nelson, head of Member Success, Julie Viola head of Operations (with whom I previously worked for about four years), Laura from Zirtual, who leads coordination and special projects, and a host of other continuing business partners from our network and beyond.

Crowd Companies 2014, by the numbers, we’ve:

To scale, We’ve used as many Crowd Services, ourselves
We were busy trying to build a scalable business. To the best of our ability, we have tried to live the movement of access over ownership, on-demand services and tapping the crowd. We have been able to be efficient because we also live this movement as much as possible. We use co-working spaces like Breather and the Impact Hub on demand, tap ridesharing, stay at Airbnbs, use crowd-based services like Cloudpeeps, oDesk, Crowdspring, Shapeways and others. The Wall Street Journal invited me to share how we use crowd services.

2015 Plans
We’ll be expanding the website to feature the successes our members have had in the market.

  • We will continue to publish industry-leading research and documents that can be referenced by the industry as a whole.
  • I will be speaking at a number of conferences, including the Swiss Economic Forum, Ouishare Festival, and the Collaborative Economy conference. I’m available to be booked through APB Speakers Bureau.
  • We already have more than five events planned for our members, and we’re considering some which could be open to the public.
  • We are growing in Europe and are planning a member event there in Q2.
  • We are planning to hear case studies of consulting firms who’ve deployed with large brands in this market, to help tell your story.

If you’d like to understand where we believe 2015 is headed, and if you know of innovative leaders at large corporations that want to join the council, we look forward to connecting with you, please contact me at jeremiah@crowdcompanies.com – thank you!

To best illustrate some of our physical events –see gallery, below:

Crowd Companies Spring Summit, SF 2014
Above: Crowd Companies Spring Summit, SF 2014, a focus on sharing economy and maker movement, hosted by member Autodesk

Private Tour of Shapeways 3D printing factory
Above: Private tour of Shapeways, a 3D printing factory

Crowd Companies Fall Summit, NY, 2014
Above: Crowd Companies Fall Summit, NY, 2014, hosted by member Polycom

Council Members share their perspective
Above: Council Members from top brands share their perspective, Fall Summit.

Crowd Companies Immersion Tours at Techshop, SF
Above: Crowd Companies Immersion Tours at Techshop with CEO Mark Hatch, SF

We're all connected, led by Angus Nelson
Above: We’re all connected, led by Angus Nelson, head of member success

Crowd Companies Meets Techshop, Brit&Co, TypeA, CustomMade, Shapeways
Above: Crowd Companies members meet Techshop, Brit&Co, TypeAMachines, Custom Made, Shapeways and other startups

Crowd Companies Fall Summit 2014
Above: Crowd Companies Fall Summit 2014, a focus on retail and future of finance hosted by member Polycom.

Touring Shapeways 3D Printing Factory
Above: Touring Shapeways 3D Printing Factory

Crowd Companies Team
Above: The team: Angus, Jeremiah, Julie (not featured are our many partners, contractors and crowd-based providers)

2015 Is the Year of the Crowd (Slides & Video)



In the embedded presentation above, I assert that 2015 Is the Year of the Crowd, and make the point in a few ways:

  • The growth in nearly every sector of society with the expanded Collaborative Economy (healthcare, logistics, municipal, corporate and more), see Honeycomb 2,
  • Massive funding in this space, which has overtook funding to popular social networks, see spreadsheet,
  • How the disruptive incumbents are pushing back –legitimizing the movement, see disruption deck,
  • How brands are moving into this space, their adoption is clipping upward, see timeline of brands,
  • How Crowd Companies, a council for large brands that we founded, which has experienced over 100% growth, see Crowd Companies.

Below is the predictions slide, which calls out an area for discussion across the whole movement. In particular, read Lisa Gansky’s piece on Fast Company on how the startups should start sharing the value with the people that are making them popular. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what the future spells for the Collaborative Economy in this coming year.

Ten Minute Video:
This presentation was from the LewEb keynote in Paris on Dec 9, 2014 (picture of audience), you can watch the live video, to get the full context of the slides, below:

Collaborative Economy Honeycomb 2 –Watch it Grow


Collaborative Economy Honeycomb 2.0

Above Image: Honeycomb 2.0, click and access multiple sizes stored on Flickr, Please share widely, with attribution, non-commercially.

The first version had six industries –now it’s twelve

I’ll be releasing this graphic on stage tomorrow at LeWeb conference in Paris, on a session called 2015: The Year of the Crowd.

Seven months ago, in May 2014, we published the first version of the Collaborative Economy Honeycomb, which is also embedded at the bottom of this post. It contained six families of industries that are being impacted by P2P commerce, including: 1) Goods, 2) Food, 3) Services, 4) Transportation, 5) Space, and 6) Money. Today, we felt obliged to update the graphic, as it’s quickly expanded into many other industries and verticals. While many of these startups have been around for years, the new Honeycomb contains additional startups in the six original hexes, as well as noting expansion into these areas:

  1. Health & Wellness: For example, Helparound.co enables P2P diabetes care, including sharing of insulin and pumps.
  2. Logistics: For example, Postmates enables the final mile of delivery, and Roost enables P2P home storage.
  3. Corporate: Now corporations can have their own Uber-like experience with LocalMotion or build their own Airbnb with Near-me.
  4. Utilities: Power sharing with Vandebron, crowdfunded solar with Solar Mosaic, and WiFi sharing with Fon.
  5. Municipal: Cities are sharing street cleaning vehicles on Munirent, and public bike systems are heavily funded with Velib.
  6. Learning: Numerous startups enable students to share books on Chegg, as well as online training led by instructors and peers.

It’s worth noting that in the newer hex areas, they are often fewer logos as the market is young –in the more central hex areas, we had to remove logos due to excessive market crowding –a sign of market saturation in one area. I expect to see new hex areas in data, analytics, and a variety of new startups that offer help to providers such as insurance, financial services, benefits and more.

About this multi-month project
For transparency, these startups reflect those that were recommended by our members, industry experts, or which have received notable funding in the recent months. You can learn more about the funding, on this massive funding spreadsheet which has over 530 rows of funded startups, totaling over $7 billion in funding. The startups selected in this honeycomb have a Western market focus. You can create your own blank version of the Honeycomb for your own for your personal, business, or regional use, embedded below.

There are numerous folks we want to thank 
We received input from our own Crowd Companies members and industry experts, and drew inspiration from folks like Brian Solis, who guided on the first iteration. To see a massive directory of over 9,000 startups in this market, please advance to the Mesh Directory managed by industry leader Lisa Gansky.

Additional input from: Lisa Gansky (@instigating), Neal Gorenflo (@gorenflo), Shervin Pishevar (@sherpa), Mike Walsh (@mwalsh), Brian Solis (@briansolis), Alexandra Samuel (@awsamuel), Bill Johnston (@billjohnston), Angus Nelson (@angusnelson), Augie Ray (@augieray), Jeff Rodman (@jeffreyrodman), John Sheldon (@jsheldonus), Jamie Sandford (@jsandford), Arun Sundararajan (@digitalarun), Jonathan Wichmann (@jonathanwich) and Vision Critical (@visioncritical). and special thanks to Vlad Mirkovic of Transart Design.

Access the services directly
Below, you can access direct URLs to each of the startups listed in the Honeycomb graphic, except for the cryptocurrencies which are decentralized resources. Again, this is just an example list of the 9,000 startups in this ever-expanding, heavily funded startup space.

Families Sub Classes Example Startup URL
Peer to Peer
Instructables http://www.instructables.com
Skillshare http://www.skillshare.com
Gibbon https://gibbon.co
Maven http://www.maven.co
Chegg http://www.chegg.com
PopExpert https://www.popexpert.com
Thinkful http://www.thinkful.com/
Udemy http://udemy.com/
Helpouts https://helpouts.google.com
Khan Academy https://www.khanacademy.org
Coursera https://www.coursera.org
Udacity https://www.udacity.com
Bespoke Goods
Quirky https://www.quirky.com/
CustomMade http://www.custommade.com
Shapeways http://www.shapeways.com
The Grommet https://www.thegrommet.com
Etsy https://www.etsy.com
Tindie https://www.tindie.com
Techshop http://techshop.ws
Loaner Products
Rocksbox https://www.rocksbox.com
Pley https://www.pley.com
RentTheRunway https://www.renttherunway.com
Bagborrowsteal http://www.bagborroworsteal.com
HauteVault http://hautevault.com/
1000Tools https://www.1000tools.com
Pre-Owned Goods
GoneApp http://thegoneapp.com
Threadflip http://www.threadflip.com
Swapdom http://www.swapdom.com
Listia https://www.listia.com
Ebay http://www.ebay.com
Kijiji http://www.kijiji.ca
Craigslist http://sfbay.craigslist.org
Yerlde https://yerdle.com
Moveloot https://www.moveloot.com
Health & Wellness
PopExpert https://www.popexpert.com
Kindly http://kindlychat.com
Vint https://www.joinvint.com
Stat http://signup.stat.com
Teamup http://goteamup.org.uk
Eaze http://www.eazeup.com
Helparound http://helparound.co
CoHealo http://cohealo.com
Medicast https://www.medicast.co
Shared Food Prep
Kitchit http://www.kitchit.com
Kitchen Surfing https://www.kitchensurfing.com
Blue Apron http://www.blueapron.com
Munchery https://munchery.com
Shareyourmeal http://www.shareyourmeal.net
FoodTidings https://www.foodtidings.com
Shared Food
Cookening https://www.cookening.com
Leftoverswap http://leftoverswap.com
Eatwith http://www.eatwith.com
Feastly https://eatfeastly.com
Cookening https://www.cookening.com
Mealsharing https://www.mealsharing.com
Suppershare http://www.suppershare.com
Upaji http://upaji.com
Vizeat https://www.vizeat.com
PiggyBee http://piggybee.com
Friendshippr http://friendshippr.com
Nimber https://www.nimber.com
Shipster http://shipster.co
Shyp http://www.shyp.com
GetBellHops https://getbellhops.com
Local Delivery
Instacart https://www.instacart.com
UberRUSH http://blog.uber.com/RUSH
Postmates https://postmates.com
Ghosttruck http://www.ghostruck.com
Deliv https://www.deliv.co
Boxbee https://boxbee.com
Roost https://roost.com
Sharemystorage http://www.sharemystorage.com
Cubbyhole http://www.cubbyholeapp.com
MakeSpace https://www.makespace.com
Personal Services
Taskrabbit https://www.taskrabbit.com
Zirtual https://www.zirtual.com
Taskangel http://www.mytaskangel.co.uk
Fiverr https://www.fiverr.com
Timebanks http://timebanks.org
Homejoy https://www.homejoy.com
Business Services
AirPR https://www.airpr.com
Elance-oDesk https://www.elance-odesk.com
Crowdspring http://www.crowdspring.com
99Designs http://99designs.com
Freelancer https://www.freelancer.com
Cloudpeeps http://www.cloudpeeps.com
BidWilly http://www.bidwilly.com
Private Label
Tilt https://www.tilt.com
Nearme http://near-me.com
Button http://www.usebutton.com
Supply Chain
Cargomatic https://www.cargomatic.com
LocalMotion https://www.getlocalmotion.com
WoNoLo http://wonolo.com
Employee Services
Twogo https://www.twogo.com
SlideRides http://www.slicerides.com
WarpIt https://www.warp-it.co.uk
Transportation Services
Uber https://www.uber.com
Lyft https://www.lyft.com
Sidecar http://www.side.cr
BlaBlaCar http://www.blablacar.com
Hailo https://hailocab.com
OlaCar http://www.olacabs.com
Shuddle https://shuddle.us/
Bridj http://www.bridj.com/
Loaner Vehicles
RelayRides https://relayrides.com
Getaround https://www.getaround.com
Flightcar https://flightcar.com
Boatbound https://boatbound.co
Surfair https://www.surfair.com
Scoot http://www.scootnetworks.com
Car2Go https://www.car2go.com
DriveNow https://us.drive-now.com
Optimization Analytics
Zettadriver http://zettadriver.com
Sherpashare http://sherpashare.com
WhatsTheFare http://www.whatsthefare.com
Serval Project http://www.servalproject.org
Fon https://corp.fon.com/en
Firechat https://opengarden.com/firechat
Solar Mosaic https://joinmosaic.com
Vandebron https://vandebron.nl/
Work Space
PeerSpace http://www.peerspace.com
Seats2Meet https://www.seats2meet.com
Pivotdesk https://www.pivotdesk.com
Sharedesk http://www.sharedesk.net
Liquidspace https://liquidspace.com
Breather http://breather.com
Storefront https://www.thestorefront.com
Personal Space
Couchsurfing https://www.couchsurfing.org
Onefinestay http://www.onefinestay.com
Homeaway http://www.homeaway.com
Homeexchange https://www.homeexchange.com/en/
Airbnb http://airbnb.com
Plot http://www.plotmanchester.com
CasaVersa http://casaversa.com
Love Home Swap http://www.lovehomeswap.com
Rental Optimization
RateCoaster http://ratecoaster.com
SmartHost http://www.smarthost.me
BeyondPricing https://beyondpricing.com
Everbooked https://www.everbooked.com
Musketeer http://www.getmusketeer.com
Kitestring https://www.kitestring.io
Life360 https://www.life360.com
Bannerman https://getbannerman.com
Equipment, Industrial
YardClub http://www.yardclub.com
Munirent https://www.munirent.co
Velib http://en.velib.paris.fr
Bitcoin No central website
Dogecoin http://dogecoin.com
Litecoin https://litecoin.org
Namecoin http://namecoin.info
Peercoin http://www.peercoin.net
GreenNote https://www.greennote.com
Kiva http://www.kiva.org
Prosper https://www.prosper.com
LendingClub https://www.lendingclub.com
Zopa http://www.zopa.com
Upstart https://www.upstart.com
Circle Up https://circleup.com
Pave https://www.pave.com
Indiegogo https://www.indiegogo.com
Crowdfunder https://www.crowdfunder.com
Kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com
OurCrowd https://www.ourcrowd.com
Gofundme http://www.gofundme.com
FundingCircle https://www.fundingcircle.com



Below: Each region, business, and personal usage will vary. In the spirit of openness and collaboration, we offer this blank template below (or access various sizes) for you to customize for your needs.


Below: For reference, the first Honeycomb (version 1.0), with the original six categories, is below:


The Collaborative Economy is Replicating Social Business #socbiz


Social Business Replicated by Collaborative Economy, Ver 1.0
Above image: Social Business Replicated by Collaborative Economy, Ver 1.1
If you’re a social business professional, you’re in a prime spot to advance your career to the next phase: the Collaborative Economy.

For over ten years, I was a social business professional. I helped Hitachi launch their program as a full time employee in 2005, started this Web Strategy blog, joined Forrester Research, and became a founding partner at Altimeter Group. I saw the genesis, evolution, maturity, and integration of an entire market in less than a decade.

Today, another decade later, I’m witnessing the birth, growth, and emergence of the next phase of social connection: the Collaborative Economy. In social media, people created media and shared it on social networks. In this next phase, people are creating physical goods in the maker movement and by crowdfunding, and sharing them in revolutionary movement that we call the Collaborative Economy.

In the preceding graphic, you’ll see that many of the Social Business software players that I’ve researched are now replicating in the Collaborative Economy space, from profiles, data, APIs, apps, analytics players, corporate platforms, and more. I’ll be sharing this graphic and other data at my keynote at LeWeb in a week where I’ll be forecasting 2015 the Year of the Crowd.

Social Business was a fast-moving industry that’s starting to integrate into corporations. If you saw how that industry birthed and grew, and were a leader or practitioner, you’re ahead of the pack and can grow your career in this next phase, the Collaborative Economy.

If you’re a Social Business professional, here are a few resources to get you caught up to speed: