Airbnb is just one of dozens of companies to describe itself as part of the sharing economy — the idea of using the Internet to create person-to-person, or peer-to-peer, marketplaces that empower everyday people. The enabler — companies like Airbnb — gets a cut of each transaction it facilitates. While some sharing economy platforms promote in-kind trades among members, others, like Airbnb, tend to exchange services for money. Other well-known companies in this genre include car-sharing services Uber and Lyft.
On the surface, « sharing » may sound groovy — hey, it’s San Francisco, after all. But this new economy is creating social dislocation and tension that’s near a boiling point. And, despite the kumbaya-like pronouncements of companies touting sharing services, there’s one mega-force driving them: cash.
And when will we begin to address it for what it is? Renting and not sharing!