Definition: Sharing

: to have or use (something) with others

of two or more people : to divide (something) into parts and each take or use a part

: to let someone else have or use a part of (something that belongs to you)

: the sharing economy (sometimes referred to as the peer-to-peer, mesh, or collaborative economy; also collaborative consumption) is a socio-economic system built around the sharing of human and physical resources.

Is it time to start caring about sharing?

Well, by now we have all heard about car sharing, Uber, Airbnb, Dogvacay and more … all part of the new sharing economy. But is it really “sharing” when you are renting out your apartment or turning your car into a taxi or is it a brilliant marketing idea borrowed from the hippies – you have to be making the world a better place, connecting the planet, or building communities.

According to Chamath Palihapitiya, a Canadian venture capitalist in his mid-30’s who has lived in Silicon Valley since 2000, “It’s not the sharing economy,” Palihapitiya insists, “that’s a bunch of San Francisco bullshit. What we’re doing is rebuilding fundamental human rights.”

Palihapitiya’s net worth is estimated to be over $1 billion and he’s considered one of the valley’s most innovative thinkers. For him, transportation and housing are fundamental human rights, and for too long consumers have been prevented from fully exercising those rights by government regulations designed to protect the status quo.  But the success of Airbnb and Uber has changed the equation.

“There used to be sort of a very arbitrary notion that Silicon Valley should never challenge anything that involves regulation,” Palihapitiya explained in an interview in the office of one of his San Francisco based startups.

“And as a result, none of us would spend any time in places like health care or education or financial services or transportation or housing.  But Uber and Airbnb challenged these historical assumptions and they are winning in a massive way. And so now everyone’s waking up and saying, ‘Well, if it works in transportation and it works in housing, why can’t it work in health care and education and financial services?’
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I think he’s got a point!  Even though it’s not really sharing … there is no doubt it works and allows all of us to either make some extra income for a space, car etc .. that we are not using or save a bit of cash while on vacation and even “share” or trade our skills on the global market.

Just this year, myself and my husband both used Fiverr.com for designing logo’s.  Five bucks can get you anything from graphic design, to models for your clothing line, film, video, radio ads and even a virtual assistant!  I’ve also contributed to a crowd funding project on Kickstarter and bought a t-shirt on Teespring .  Then while planning for a trip to Europe this spring, the first place we looked for accommodation was Airbnb, and guess what …. awesome choices at reasonable rates.  I will definitely give a report post-trip.  In the meantime, I discovered several acquaintances who are renting rooms is their own houses via Airbnb.

According to Yana Gutierrez, vice president at American Express (AE), “Boomers will spend close to $120 billion on travel this year and will take four to five trips in 2015. Plus, 85% of baby boomers use travel websites to find information about their trips.”  In fact, with the new sharing economy, AE has made a deal whereby members can by gift certificates for Airbnb.com

According to Crowd Companies, while 48% of those who had used ‘neo-sharing’ collaborative consumption platforms (such as Airbnb, Zipcar and Kickstarter) were aged 18-34, 33% were aged 35-54 and 19% were aged over 55 and growing.

It looks like “sharing” is here to stay thanks to the internet … so share and share alike!

image: Kathy Simon