I mentioned Airbnb.com in a previous post and named them as one of the shining starts of the Collaborative Economy having received about $120m in VC funding to scale-up their operations according to Altimeter Research.
For those that haven’t see Airbnb.com yet, it provides a marketplace for home owners to rent out their spare rooms to travelers that would prefer to stay in someones home, have a home cooked breakfast and learn about a new City from a local that actually lives there rather than a homogenized, characterless hotel chain.
Founded in 2007, the founders began by renting air mattresses as substitute beds in their apartment when big trade fairs and exhibitions came to Town and literally swamped the city’s hotels.
As well as earning some much needed income, they realised that there was a genuine and thriving demand for “places to stay where the hospitality was genuine and the M&Ms didn’t cost $6. In staying this way, their guests also gained insight into the city from a fresh, local perspective, making for a truly authentic and memorable experience”.
They now have hundreds of thousands of beds listed on the site in a bewildering number of locations and types from huts on remote islands, to yurts to castles to humble spare rooms.
You can read more here
This is brilliant from Jeremiah Owyang from Altimeter Group who seems to be leading the current thinking about the Collaborative Economy. Here’s the link to a webinar that is a must watch if you are at all interested in the Internet and the role it plays, and will likely play in the global economy.
One of the many compelling propositions in the presentation which sets the scene for the Collaborative Economy is the concept of the 3 Eras of the Internet.
Era 1 he calls the Internet Era. We as consumers were exactly that – we consumed content because the mechanics of creating content were more complex than most of us could handle. The ability to create and publish content was limited, in the main to businesses and brands.
Here’s where we are now, in the 2nd Era, the Social Media Age. This blog is the living proof of the Social Media age. Without any particular training here I am, sharing my ideas with the World. Social tools like facebook, pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and beyond allows us as individuals the same privileges and access that major corporations have to share ideas and insights and content.
What’s next? The 3rd Era is what he calls the Collaborative Economy Age. Here we will be using the same ‘social’ technologies to collaborate as we do now, but rather than simply sharing our ideas, we will be sharing goods and services.
What do we mean by that? There are countless examples in the presentation, but I can give you one, starting with the Hotel business
Era 1 brought us the ability to visit a website run by the hotel chain and book a room on-line. That was ground breaking stuff!
Era 2 disrupted this by allowing us to also choose an intermediate service like TripAdvisor or Laterooms.com and not only choose from hundreds of different hotel chains BUT also factor in ‘social’ input in the form of customer reviews, photographs and video that other users had shared
Era 3 is set to disrupt the Hotel business even further by bringing us services like Airbnb.com which is one of the shining stars of the Collaborative Economy which essentially turns the ‘crowd’ into the Hotelier. Anyone can rent-out their spare rooms on the Airbnb platform and we as consumers can choose to stay, rather than a hotel chain, in someones home.