The success and buzz around companies like Airbnb and Lyft preceded an explosion of Peer-to-Peer Marketplaces where a consumer can access everything from a car for the afternoon, to a handmade (and delivered) quiche for breakfast, to a dog for the weekend. The idea of creating an app based on the “Sharing Economy” is so popular that Sharetribe, a company from Helsiniki, Finland, will sell start-ups a “sharing” platform out of the box.
The idea of the “Sharing Economy” is not a novel concept, even online. Ebay and Craigslist, followed by Couchsurfing and Etsy have been facilitating Person-to-Person transactions for years. So what has changed? The explosion of social media caused a paradigm shift for the world with internet access, shaping an environment ripe for Peer-to-Peer commodification. The publication and consumption of personal details on Facebook and Twitter have created a sense of trust and safety when it comes to connecting online. The charismatic apps Instagram and Pinterest make it incredibly simple to curate and publish your own living and breathing brand on the internet. This shift has made social renting or “sharing” online more comfortable, marketable and personal.
The term “Sharing Economy” has proven to be a PR goldmine, but it has received some criticism because the majority of these apps are fueled by monetary transactions, which most of us call renting. Despite a few critiques the concept of Peer-to-Peer Marketplaces online is more popular than ever. The “Sharing Economy” is even gaining political traction through an organization called Peers, co-founded by Natalie Foster, former Digital Director of BarackObama.com and Democrats.org. Whether it stands for a socio-economic revolution or simply a cool new angle for E-commerce, there is probably a "sharing" app that is applicable to your lifestyle, so you might as well give it a try.