I woke up this morning to read another ‘sharing economy’ bashing article. This one was about Vancouver being the largest North American district not to allow Uber to operate. Last week it was about rental shortages caused by Airbnb.
I am not taking a stand all is good or bad with these entrepreneurial disruptive entities. Where I am taking a stand is the skewed view we get because of the massively wealthy stakeholders in the background.
Rewind for a moment. It is 1985 and the first ATM’s arrive. Over the next couple of years, as general acceptance grows, entire branches start to close and employees are out of work. Still ATM’s are heralded as a great thing for customer service – can you imagine being without them today? Of course behind the scenes bank profits soar as they have reduced costs – a then $70K ATM machine replaces a $1+ million cost to operate a branch.
Big, and often invisible, stakeholders behind the scene players love this entrepreneurial innovation – they are making huge amounts of money. It is still ‘staying in the family’– and probably created a page in the Panama Papers.
The difference with Airbnb, Uber, Upwork, etc is the redistribution of the wealth ‘outside the family’. These disruptive entrepreneurial ventures are causing a cost and pricing rationalization across business landscapes that have had such high historical barriers to entry that to use the term oligopoly is generous. They controlled everything – and now they don’t. One guess as to why such massive media exposure and political clout can be brought against them.
Disruptive entrepreneurship by definition changes the rules of the game. Entrenched benefactors, as well as those who are temporarily disadvantaged, don’t like this. Just imagine the cacophonous uproar that will be heard around the globe as energy sharing starts to occur in significant ways with micro suppliers of solar, wind and other yet to be defined energy sources. OPEC might become the world’s largest PR firm at that point.