Shared economy – bad ?

The sharing economy seems these days to be the answer to every entrepreneur’s dream: a goose with golden eggs that will make everybody rich overnight.

Businesses like Uber and AirBNB are already famous for being worth tens of billions of ¤ (whatever strong currency you want) . But this explosive growth and capitalization was possible only because it harnesses basic human needs and bringing them together in a much easier way than before, thanks to the awesome power of the Internet.

The problem for this model is the regulation which is beautiful and sublime, but is completely inexistent, and this makes the difference from a traditional business model: the sharing economy is still the wild wild West and everyone is trying to claim their piece of something that still is undefined.  This lack of regulation might be also the demise of the model itself: not knowing how to get around it, governments will try to push it towards the underground economy, because it’s almost impossible to quantify what is going on in the peer to peer ecosystem.

Regulating it requires clearing houses, but redefined in such way to match the needs of this environment. An environment that itself is still being defined.

Right now, what is missing from this equation is the Revenue Services or Fiscal Authority who should be able to understand the nature of the business model before deciding to tax it, and also there needs to be an enforcing body who should make sure a contract between peers is executed as agreed, but above all, in good faith.

Peer to peer is innovation, you might argue: disruptive models that change the way we do things. But this kind of innovation is good only for the entrepreneurs and the network of peers. It’s bad for the economy, because cheating the system, dodging taxes makes the economy weaker.

Everything is rentable

It’s been here for a while. The model is all about sharing and making some money from your excess living space, like Airbnb is doing, or from excess time and unused car like uber.

There’s no doubt that it’s a new revolution in what economy was until now. Peer to peer empowers people to take advantage of something that it’s not useful for them and, somehow, it’s been argued that this makes us better people. Because even though it’s not the same thing as sharing your toys with other children, it’s about a social interaction and allowing some sort of trust to be built. You’re stepping out of your comfort zone and allow an unknown person to stay under your roof or share your car.

But from this, to quirky things like RentAFriend or BorrowMyDoggie it’s a long way and lines start to get blurry and spiral downwards from here on. These things are almost at the morality boundary, making it difficult to understand what is actually going on there.

Renting is simply making use of somebody else’s property in exchange for an agreed payment. But how much do we own?, or better put “How much excess do we own?” .

In today’s connected world, it’s easier than ever to choose your destination and rent a place, rent a car,  rent a companion for your holiday, rent some other people’s pet for that period … and you can simply play “happy family on vacation in Asia” at the lowest price on the market. No more fuss about marriage or commitment, no more heavy premium on your car insurance, no more hair on the carpet. Maximum of fun with the minimum headache.

I’m wondering what will come next, as we sometimes have a lot of excess capacities we carry with us or we waste unconsciously. It’s a matter of pushing boundaries, but at the same time keeping them within the accepted society norms. Can we fake our way into this system and rent everything for the sake of money? Is this a natural evolution towards detachment from ownership or it’s just a phase?

One way to London, via Bucharest, please!

London was the “dream city” I was hoping to settle into for such a long time that I almost forgot when it started. It must have been last century. I think.

Now I’m here. With a deep breath I know that it’s not all roses, as I’m still an alien in the Queen’s land.

A strange feeling of “I belong here” surrounds and even though things are tougher than they looked from the other end of Europe, I have the confidence that I will make it in the big city.

Yes! Romanians are coming!

After several (more or less) successful campaigns against the Romanians, the UK media has prepared another blow to the head: a whole series of “documentaries” portraying the “awful Romanian nation” as a hoard of savages, preparing an invasion in the Dark Ages style. This whole situation, transformed into a concerted campaign to discredit a whole nation, thrives on the actions of the few, bluntly raised to a general characteristic.

The United Kindgom, who’d happily pretend that is not part of the EU but rather an island in the middle of Pacific, is taking the “meh” approach to this whole problem. Why? Because as much it is their problem (and by that I mean the EU’s), the officials are pretending that is not and let the media do the whole work. Hopefully scaring the bad and the ugly away.  Continue reading Yes! Romanians are coming!

A view on the new normal

You’ve all heard about this marketing darling, which some call “the new normal”. The “new normal” is a harsh reality that brands need to face, as it is becoming increasingly difficult to disseminate their message in a unidirectional way. Brands need to become engaged with their audiences in order to survive this new reality and thrive in the “new normal” dominated by the generation of Millennials.

From this point of view, businesses stopped being accountable only to their shareholders anymore. The “new normal” brings up other important stakeholders like the employees and the customers, and sometimes groups of people that are not even directly connected to the brand, but exert public influence. All these internal and external key stakeholders perceive the business through different lenses and their interaction (either direct or indirect) defines the shape of a successful business. Continue reading A view on the new normal