Companies like ZipCar and AirBnB — which offer new ways to rent expensive assets like cars and homes — have been heralded as examples of people are calling ‘the sharing economy.’
Sharing makes sense — does everyone really need to bear the expense of a car that sits unused almost all day every day? If you live in a neighborhood where people are working in the garden, does everyone need a backhoe, or could you pool your resources and share one?
It’s not just a hippy-dippy Utopian dream — Avis paid $491 million to acquire ZipCar. So there’s value in enabling people to optimize their resources through sharing. It happens to make good environmental sense, and the Internet facilitates access, but is this an idea that can support a real movement?
In The Mesh, published in 2010, Lisa Gansky describes “Mesh” businesses as such:
- “The core offering is something that can be shared within a community, market or value chain…
- Advanced Web and mobile data networks are used to track goods and aggregate usage, customer and product information.
- The focus is on shareable physical goods…
- Offers, news and recommendations are transmitted largely through word of mouth, augmented by social network services.”
Whether you call it the Mesh or the sharing economy, something exciting is happening. There is a move towards leveraging assets more intelligently, and this is is what SmarterCompany.com will be exploring.
We’ll share with you news of the latest sharing tools and strategies as they become available, and try to help you get the information you need to decide if these new shared resources work for you.