Self-Driving Cars Disrupt the Crowd

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Vehicle prototype

Google and Uber are building self-driving cars, it’s rumored that Apple is going to be building self-driving cars, Tesla has launched driver-assistance features, and many traditional auto manufacturing companies are advancing their features to include driver assistance and, eventually, automation.

Ride sharing and car sharing pave the way for the self-driving car industry.
Ride sharing startups, like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, BlaBlaCar, and car ownership-sharing, like Getaround, DriveNow, Car2Go, RelayRides, and Zipcar are paving the way for this market. Society is learning we don’t need to own a car to complete our journey, increasing the demand for this new product. Yesterday, at a Silicon Valley Forum event in Palo Alto, experts predicted that self-driving cars will be rolling out within 5-10 years, which is just about the time car payments will end on any recently purchased cars. Also, keynote speaker, Stanford’s Stefan Heck shared this stat: “The leading cause of death for 25-40 year olds is human driven cars”, demonstrating the market need for safer and effecient transport. The potential impact to society is staggering. I’ve outlined the findings below.

The four phases of self-driving car development suggest we’re 5-10 years out.
The Personalized Car event, hosted by SVForum was held on illustrious tech-centric Sand Hill Road in Palo Alto, with speakers from Stanford, BMW, consulting firms, investors, inventors, entrepreneurs, and forecasters. Four states currently allow the testing of self-driving cars, including California, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, as well as the District of Columbia. The speakers discussed the four phases of self-driving car automation (see maturation chart, courtesy of Morgan Stanley, below) at the most basic-level, driver-assist features, like Tesla’s autopilot. The second phase, which we’re in now, is where cars can self-drive along with human fail-safes, like the Google self-driving car I see whizzing around Silicon Valley. In the next phase, we can expect to see cars transporting people, without assistance. In Phase 4 the need for human drivers will be eliminated altogether.

morgan-stanley-dcars

Above: The event verbally cited these four phases of car automation.

Speakers at the opening panel discussion were asked to forecast when they might expect to see self-driving cars for mainstream deployment. They forecasted 5-10 years, in agreement with the preceding Morgan Stanley graphic. Many of the speakers discussed the impacts self-driving cars might have on society at large. Here’s a list:

Partial list of who’s disrupted by self-driving cars:

  • Taxis compete with Uber, Google, Apple self-driving cars. Ride sharing was just the first blow.
  • Ride sharing drivers at Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, BlaBlaCar will be disrupted as autonomous cars do a safer job at lower cost.
  • Local couriers, like TaskRabbit, Instacart and bike messengers will be impacted.
  • Mid range and long range transportation and delivery services would be impacted as local delivery becomes automated.
  • Retailers may see a change in foot traffic as people order goods to be delivered to their homes by driverless cars.
  • Auto and life insurance should be impacted, due to fewer accidents and the introduction of per-mile-based insurance.
  • Paramedics may be impacted if victims choose self-driving cars to whisk them to ER for less than severe injuries.
  • Car ownership could dwindle. Self-driving cars means fewer cars will be needed, as they’re efficiently routed as needed.
  • Airbnb may benefits as urban areas convert garage spaces into living areas for short term stays.
  • The parking industry could suffer, as lots are converted to other uses.
  • Parking fines and local taxes could dwindle with fewer cars on road and robotic efficiency.
  • Radio and podcasts could become less popular, as people play video games and watch videos in the self-driving rides.
  • Short distance airlines could suffer, as people choose to take a relaxing trip in a mobile living room.
  • Communities or attractions not connected by rail could prosper as people easily travel there for business or pleasure.
  • Auto repair could be impacted as self-driving cars automatically head for maintenance without the driver or owner present.
  • Hotels and motels could be affected as families are able to sleep in the comfort of a self-driven vehicle on the way to their destination.
  • Leave a comment, below, on who else might be disrupted.

I’m on the advisory board of Sparks & Honey, an agency based in NY that looks at future trends and their impacts on society. They recently published this SlideShare, below that shows the impacts of self-driving cars on logistics, retail, culture, and even our love lives. Their list of disruptions goes far beyond what was mentioned at the event yesterday. Also, I captured notes from the event in real time on my Facebook feed, which you can read, along with community reactions.

 

Impacts to Business and the Crowd.
My current focus is on the Collaborative Economy, how the crowd obtains resources directly from each other, using commonly available technology. The key finding is that the startups in this space will also need to adjust their business model to adopt automation and prepare for people to be slowly eliminated from the driving process. Given that Uber is indicating that they’ll be creating self-driving cars and that Google will be adding ride-hailing apps to summon their self-driving cars, we can see how this is already coming to fruition. Get ready for more disruption, led by technology. To prepare us for this next phase, I’ll continue to cover this topic from time to time, based on what I see and learn.

Update: The day after I posted this, Volvo announces they’re releasing a self-driving car, by 2017, in just two years. Hat tip Lisa Woods.

There’s more discussion about this article on Linkedin, and on Facebook.

Google Enters the Collaborative Economy in a Big Way

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googlehq
Here comes Google, with a series of five market moves injecting them as a central player for the collaborative economy.

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information. But it doesn’t just start and stop there. They also want to organize the world’s logistics, commerce, local transportation, service economy, and even how people obtain and receive loans.

In the past, our perspective of the Collaborative Economy has been through startups, like Airbnb, oDesk, Lyft, Uber and Lending Club that enable people to get what they need from each other, using commonly available technologies like online marketplaces and mobile apps.

Today, Google has entered the Collaborative Economy with a series of announcements that leave a casual reader scratching their head. But placing the announcements line by line, you can see an organized attempt to enter this space traditionally dominated by early stage startups.

  1. Google is a major investor in Uber and Lending Club. They started with investments, a great way to test the waters. Google Ventures made their largest investment in Uber ($258 million), lending promise for a future of a lifestyle and logistics app which enables people to bypass car ownership and more. Then, Google invested in the P2P money-lending platform, Lending Club ($110 million), which enables individuals to bypass traditional banks. This gives Google additional market insight and a foothold from which to deploy.
  2. Google plans to roll out self-driving cars, competing with car manufactures. Last year, Google unveiled their friendly-looking, self-driving car, which they suggest will enable anyone to be mobile, reclaim time driving, and reduce the need for car ownership. In Silicon Valley, I often see self-driving Google cars whizzing around in Mountain View and on the major freeway, U.S. 101. Google suggests that these will be available in mass production for the public within five to 10 years.
  3. Google now resells P2P loans, competing with banks. P2P marketplaces of buyers and sellers are in every aspect of society. Take a look at the Collaborative Economy version 2.0 to see over twelve industries that are impacted. Last month, Google announced they’re going to resell bank loans from Lending Club, reducing the need for individuals to get loans from banks, competing directly on ease and price.
  4. Google partners with Airbnb and Lyft, challenging hotels and taxis. Last week, Google announced the expansion of “Google Now,” a mobile app that intends to be the starting point for our daily needs. They will aggregate Airbnb and Lyft data and more, enabling us to quickly and efficiently find the right on-demand services in real time. Don’t expect the partnership to stop there. Just as Google leaned into Open Social to connect with many social networks, they’ll partner with many startups who want to connect their API. Imagine Homejoy, Yerdle, Sprig, Instacart, TaskRabbit, Munchery SpoonRocket, and others.
  5. Google is reportedly building a ride hailing app to compete with Uber. It has been suggested that self-driving cars could be idling in our neighborhoods, waiting for us to order food, groceries, electronics, or even get a ride. With this new system, people are sharing ownership of cars with neighbors, hailing them on demand. It’s worth noting that Uber was absent in last week’s announcement of Google Now, although a partnership with Lyft was announced.

What it means to the Ecosystem:
Google’s announcements, in sequence spell considerable impacts to the entire ecosystem of startups, purists, investors, businesses, merchants, and of course, to the people, here’s how each ecosystem player is impacted:

  • Google will be in a dominant position if they can successfully deploy. Google is the homepage of the internet and, as a result, the start of the Collaborative Economy, as they own the ‘intent’ phase with Google Search. In the future, they’ll organize information about what people need, and be able to deliver in real time, dolling out links and customers to startups, sometimes through their self-driving vehicles.
  • Google and Uber are in a tenuous relationship. Over a year ago, I predicted that Uber + Google is a threat to Amazon. In reality, it looks more like Google may be a threat to Uber and Amazon, as they could potentially offer the same things, but on a broader scale. Google has greater ambitions and, perhaps, the business models (or egos) don’t align at Google and their investment, Uber.
  • Startups have no choice but to evaluate partnering with Google. By connecting to Google Now’s API, they can quickly gain market expansion by potentially being listed in search results, tapping a verified set of Google users, accessing new data types (like intent and location), and accessing historical customer data, all on a proven platform that will stand the test of time.
  • Sharing economy idealists feel threatened as large, tech companies embrace the concept. The notion of quaint neighborhood sharing will quickly be supplanted as Google makes it easy for ordinary people to participate in this new economy. The one difference is that, when sharing is efficient, it actually looks like an on-demand delivery model. I’ll stand firm, that this is tech-based commerce and capitalism, not neo-socialism.
  • Investors embrace Google’s streamlining of the market. This injection of such a large entity further validates the investment thesis that collaboration of unwanted resources in two-sided marketplaces is a profitable business. With Google’s multi-million dollar cash injection and shared offerings of search, apps and self-driving cars, they’ll provide additional market acceleration.
  • Brands seek to separate hype from reality with new commerce models. Many are already deeply hooked into Google’s ad business. Eventually, they’ll have the opportunity to offer their wares, services and solutions on the Google Now platform, as well as connect to various APIs to expand their business reach. Google+ self-driving cars spells opportunity for local merchants, restaurants, and retailers who seek solutions for the ‘final mile’ of delivery.
  • For the people, this mainstreams access to real-time services rather than ownership. Most importantly, for the public, and I mean mainstream, normal people, this provides validity for the Collaborative Economy. Using commonly available search tools or apps, people can quickly get services, rides and products from companies in one trusted space: Google.

Google’s mission is to organize the worlds’ information, but they won’t stop there. They’ll also organize our delivery, our transportation, our food service, our money, and our lives.

Here comes Google. Get ready.

(image from Mark Fiser)

 

A New Industry: These Groups Love Freelancers

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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

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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

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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)

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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.


FIVE 2015 PREDICTIONS:
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: