In this week’s edition of our Insider Report, we look at the following activity in the on-demand economy:
- An alternate take on the longevity of the sharing economy
- A comedian who may or may not have crossed some lines
- Four ways freelance workers can help business owners meet their goals
- Uber drivers and Uber investors receive press in New York
- And the power of an endorsement from Beyoncé
Come to think of it, we probably should have led with Beyoncé.
Is the sharing economy a “fleeting moment”?
It’s commonly believed that the sharing economy is a revolutionary change that will affect virtually every aspect of our lives for at least the foreseeable future. Vikram Mansharamani isn’t entirely in agreement with that belief.
In a Feb. 4 post for PBS NewsHour, Mansharamani posits that “the so-called ‘sharing economy’ is a fleeting moment in economic history.”
The financial and business media commentator goes on to explain his belief that “the ‘sharing economy’ may eventually morph into the ‘platform owns everything’ economy.”
He cites examples such as plans for self-driving cars and the fact that Netflix is now creating its own content, and he ponders whether Airbnb might someday decide to move past facilitating home rentals and start actually owning properties.
This week in biting the hand that’s feeding you
Maybe Chelsea Peretti was trying to get a head start on Chris Rock, who’s expected to criticize the lack of diversity in Oscar acting nominations when he hosts the Academy Awards on Feb. 28. Whatever the case, the comedian turned her hosting gig at the “Crunchies” Feb. 8 into somewhat of a roast of her hosts.
As reported by Sarah Perez of TechCrunch, Peretti wasn’t afraid to be candid at the ninth-annual event to honor tech companies, taking shots at on-demand companies and cracking jokes about the industry’s issues with diversity. Was she discourteous or just doing her job as a satirist? Your mileage may vary.
Knowing when to call in on-demand talent
As long as you don’t mind British spellings such as “specialise,” a Feb. 5 guest post by Rich Pearson for the Virgin website is worth checking out. Pearson lists four circumstances in which business owners should enlist freelance workers to meet goals.
The list isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it provides a useful reminder that on-demand professionals can be lifesavers when you’re dealing with tight resources, deadlines and budgets, or when you need highly specialized skills for a particular project.
Investors love Uber; some NYC drivers feel differently
Another darling of the sharing economy, Uber, continues to make headlines. (Note to Lyft: It might be time for a bigger marketing push.)
In Uber’s case, the publicity was a bit mixed: The New Yorker detailed a protest by a small group of Uber drivers in New York City, while the New York Times reported that investors have never been more eager to bet big on the car-sharing service.
The Feb. 8 New Yorker post by Adrian Chen detailed Uber drivers’ frustrations over fare reductions in New York City, leading to a Feb. 1 protest and temporary strike. (Uber cut fares in more than 80 U.S. and Canadian cities on Jan. 29.)
The post touches on the usual concerns about worker classification and unionizing, but it also suggests growing friction between Uber’s drivers and the company itself.
If possible driver dissatisfaction concerns potential investors, they’re not showing it. In their New York Times post on Feb. 4, Leslie Picker and Peter Eavis reported that wealthy Morgan Stanley clients are investing in a special fund that lets them make a “blind bet” on the white-hot company.
The fund, New Riders L.P., is separate from the billions of dollars in capital Uber has recently raised, the post explains. These investors get no direct equity and receive few protections. Instead, they’ve committed about $500 million to the fund in hopes of profiting whenever Uber eventually chooses to go public.
We’ll never miss a chance to mention Beyoncé (or Airbnb)
Beyoncé Knowles managed not to cause a power outage during halftime at Super Bowl 50 (as her production reportedly did in 2013), but she made plenty of waves regardless. (Of course she did. She’s Beyoncé.)
As Marco della Cava of USA Today reported, while the Internet was debating the singer’s performance from 500 different angles Sunday night, Beyoncé and her family were relaxing in a $10,000-a-night Airbnb rental in Los Altos Hills.
Adding to Airbnb’s cred, the superstar personally thanked the company in a Facebook post that quickly earned more than 650,000 likes.
After becoming the most valuable hospitality company in less than a decade of existence (despite not owning any property), Airbnb, you might have thought, couldn’t get any hotter.
It just got hotter.