Is The Sharing Economy About To Stop Sharing?

By Vikram Mansharamani

Today’s sharing economy has a cutting edge feel to it. It screams “innovation” and disruption. It’s seems futuristic.  We’re living in a world where the most valuable media company — Facebook — produces no content; the world’s biggest taxi company — Uber — owns no vehicles, and the world’s most valuable hospitality company — Airbnb — owns no hotels.

Network

Networks, it seems, are more valuable than the services they facilitate. And in some ways, this makes sense. They are enabling stranded assets liked parked cars or empty beds to be economically productive. The networks are valuable precisely because they connect those with needs and those who can help fulfill them.

There’s reason to believe, though, that the so-called “sharing economy” is a fleeting moment in economic history. Digital giants and upstarts alike are realizing that networks can be fickle, while ownership of and control over the services they facilitate hold the key to a sustainable advantage and long term profits.

Take transportation, for example. Uber is famous for being a giant, car-less taxi company, preferring to let its drivers supply the vehicles. In doing so, though, it has to give them a significant cut. What if it didn’t have to pay for drivers at all? That’s the promise of driverless cars.

As Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick told a tech conference in 2014, the service is more expensive than it should be “because you’re not just paying for the car — you’re paying for the other dude in the car. When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle.”

What happens to car demand in a world where it’s cheaper to take an Uber than own a car? Sure, it might shrink a bit as cars are more heavily utilized and meet more driving needs. But the more interesting fact may be that the network suddenly owns all the cars.

Last year, Uber launched a lab in Pittsburgh to facilitate the development of autonomous car technology. While Uber may be a car-less taxi company today, it has its sights on owning all the cars in the future.

It’s no surprise, then, that GM recently announced a $500 million investment in Uber’s main rival Lyft, building a network-manufacturer partnership that could compete with the prospect of a vertically integrated Uber. As NPR reported, “In the short-term, GM will rent cars to drivers. In the long-term, GM will build a self-driving fleet in which cars are owned by a company — not bought by individual consumers.” Meanwhile, Google plans on spinning off its driverless car unit into a standalone business later this year.

Uber

The “sharing economy” may eventually morph into the “platform owns everything” economy. Just consider what’s going on in the entertainment sector. Netflix, which has grown rapidly by connecting other people’s content to end users, is now focused on producing its own original content. In 2016, the company plans to produce 600 hours of original programming. Amazon is now producing original shows as well, and doing so quite well. Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle” recently won two Golden Globe Awards. At one point in early January, the top 5 TV shows, according to ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, were produced by either Netflix or Amazon.

While Facebook has not announced plans to produce news (which is not particularly lucrative anyway), it is getting publishers to host their content with them. Much more consequential, however, is its approach to virtual reality. Facebook bought Oculus in 2014…and drum roll please… Oculus has a studio of its own—Oculus Story Studio—which is funding original content. If the future of visual media is in VR, then Facebook will be one of its earliest producers.

Might Airbnb someday find itself wanting to scoop up some property of its own? It’s too soon to tell, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they did. One thing seems clear: we can’t assume that network owners will be content until they have control.

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The Hardest Part About Running for President

by Geoff Colvin

Donald Trump

It’s the world’s longest, highest-stakes ironman triathlon.

Running for president must be one of the most stressful activities a person can engage in. I realize that firefighters, hostage negotiators, Navy SEALs, and others go through times of indescribable stress, but they pass. Running for president takes two years, and as far as I can tell, you never get to rest.

Now that New Hampshire is voting, the candidates must make hay in South Carolina and Nevada while also preparing for Super Tuesday, just three weeks from today, when 14 states choose convention delegates. Taking a break only damages your chances. It’s the world’s longest, highest-stakes ironman triathlon. That’s why, long ago, the political operatives who worked on the campaigns of John, Robert, and Edward Kennedy would check themselves into a hospital on the day after election day.

Our topic today is stress because it’s a centrally important issue for all leaders and it is, like sleep, an issue that big-deal leaders are supposed to laugh at. Sleep? Who needs it? Donald Trump claimed in a debate that he got along fine on three hours a night. Stress? It goes with the territory. Don’t whine about it. But in reality stress hurts you and can kill you, and, like sleep deprivation, it’s an issue that all leaders need to confront.

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6 Social Media Trends That Will Take Over 2016

by Kelly McDonald

For social marketers, 2015 was an exciting year. New platforms, software and consumer preferences brought about a host of changes and opportunities. As a result, social media—and subsequently your strategy—has evolved and will continue to do so.

It’s impossible to predict how the social media landscape will change over the course of a year, but here are six social media trends marketers should keep an eye on in 2016:

1. Real Real-Time Engagement
Social media thrives on real-time engagement, but each year the window for response becomes smaller and smaller. According to Search Engine Watch, 70% of Twitter users expect a response from brands they reach out to, and 53% want a response in less than an hour. That number jumps to 72% when they’re issuing a complaint.

In 2014, consumers complained about brands 879 million times on social media. What’ssocial_media-1 worse is that in 2015, brands still weren’t responding as 7 in 8 messages to them went unanswered within 72 hours.

One of the key strategies marketers need to implement in 2016 is faster response times. Thanks to advances made to social listening and automation tools, if you’re not quick to respond one of your competitors might be. Social media is moving fast, and if your business has a presence on any of the platforms then you’re expected to keep up.

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