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From: Glenn Petersen9/3/2017 11:14:57 AM
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When Tahilianis and tractors join the sharing economy

Joeanna Rebello Fernandes
Times of India
| Sep 3, 2017, 01:00 IST

Executive coach Deepak Sawhney and his wife have furnished their rented flat in Gurgaon with rented furniture.

Has possession become passe? A growing number of rental startups seem to think so

Ownership is overrated. It's also onerous, permanent, and expensive. So the new Indian rents: from apartments to appliances, from cars and clothes to cameras and clutches. A generation ago, renting was considered back-alley and base. Now, thanks to Uber and Airbnb which showed us how easy it is to hop into someone else's car or holiday in a stranger's car, the shared economy is steadily infiltrating the inner sanctums of our consumer life.

Like the closet. Last month, a 30-year-old Delhiite who works in luxury retail subscribed to Rent It Bae, an online clothing rental company's monthly subscription plan. For Rs 3,999, it allowed her to rent two garments and an accessory at a time, with unlimited exchanges in a month. "There's a lot of pressure in the luxury retail business to dress well and wear new clothes all the time," says the woman, asking not to be named.

The one-time-wear culture is a product of these Instagram days, where one's image can be built or broken by the getup. "This generation keeps up with trends, which requires a frequent change of wardrobe," says Aanchal Saini, the lawyer-turned-founder of Rent It Bae, who believes a shared closet saves not just money but also the planet by reducing fashion waste. The clothes are either purchased by the company or sourced from Indian designers who make use of their stagnant stock in exchange for 30-70% of the rent. A Rs 30,000 Tarun Tahiliani kaftan gown goes at Rs 1,899 for four days. The Gurgaon-based Swishlist also stocks a wide range of designers and even offers styling tips.

Illustration credit: Chad Crowe


Saini's one-year-old company, which services Delhi-NCR, plans to pan out to Jaipur, Chandigarh, and Ludhiana soon. In fact, several rental companies are starting to cast out into Tier 2 and 3 cities. Fabrento, the furniture rental in NCR, is heading to Mumbai as well as Chandigarh, Mohali, and Panchkula. The 60-year-old company, which launched its rental operations last year, plans to design furniture specific to the aesthetic and spatial requirements of different cities. More storage for Mumbai, more frills for Mohali. Rent it for a minimum of three months, then recycle it when you're bored. If you like it, buy it. "Retailers call it EMI, we call it rent," says CEO Anand Suman, who recently introduced a premium line of leather sofas and recliners. A seven-piece leather sofa set for minimum three months costs Rs 7,000 a month.

Premium goods signal an older, high-earning clientele. And rental companies are aware that customers are no longer migratory millennials, but Gen-Xers as well. Rent It Bae sees women in their 50s and 60s renting clutches and jewellery.

When executive coach Deepak Sawhney relocated from Hyderabad to Gurgaon with his wife, deputy principal in a school, they decided to furnish their rented apartment with rented furniture. Sawhney's monthly outlay is around Rs 10,000 for a sofa, two beds, and a dining set. "When we eventually settle into our own apartment, we'll buy furniture suited to it," says Sawhney, 51, a customer of Fabrento.

About 20 years ago, possession was important and the need for security (through ownership) high. "People preferred to buy their own things, even loans were disparaged," says Ashita Aggarwal, who heads the marketing department at S P Jain Institute of Management and Research. However, for Gen Y, "the opportunity cost of buying is high - it includes the psychological cost of selecting, maintaining and disposing of," says Aggarwal.

It was, incidentally, pre-owned goods platforms like OLX and Quikr that paved the way for the spurt in rentals. Amit Sodhi, co-founder of Rentickle which rents out appliances as well as furniture, points out the advantages to renting over buying. "We save you the hassle of searching for the product you want, carting it home, and suffering the uncertainty of quality and the compromise on outdated designs. All our products are under warranty, and can be repaired or replaced."

His partner Vineet Chawla marks two categories of customers: Functional and Aspirational. The latter want to enjoy bigger and better things, without having to break the bank. Sometimes, they just want to give something a twirl before they commit to a purchase. "Like a treadmill, which people buy on a whim and then use as a clothesline," says Chawla.

The rental market in India is growing deep and wide, spanning new geographies and goods. For instance, Unwind Life rents camping gear and Go Pro cameras. A clutch of farm equipment rentals like EM3 Agriservices, Mahindra & Mahindra-owned Trringo and Gold Farm, are even cultivating rural markets with on-demand, pay-per-hour-or-acre tractors and harvesters. While the urban rental marketplace is online, in villages farmers can rent machines they need through call centres.

According to data tracking firm Traxcn, India has 268 rental startups. And it's only expected to grow since a sizeable chunk of the population is young and in flux.

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From: Glenn Petersen9/3/2017 11:37:58 AM
   of 664
As consumers become increasingly dissatisfied with traditional mass transit options, they are turning to crowdsourcing to fill their needs.

Start-ups find footing with crowdsourced bus service in cities with ailing transit

By Luz Lazo By Luz Lazo
The Washington Post
September 2 at 3:53 PM

People pass by a Chariot commuter shuttle service vehicle on Aug. 2, 2017 in New York. The 14-passenger vans serve lines created according to the needs of Internet users. (Thomas Urbain/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

From San Francisco to Austin to New York, app-based services are allowing people to crowdsource bus routes, reserve rides — and take more charge of their commutes.

The Uber-for-buses variations are trending in major cities across the U.S., connecting riders to charter buses, linking neighborhoods to city centers and ferrying masses of people to major events.

“Crowdsourcing is the future of mass transportation,” said Axel Hellman, a transportation planner for OurBus, a tech start-up that has three crowdsourced routes in the New York City area, including one recently launched from Livingston, N.J., to midtown Manhattan.

“If you are a community with a growing population, a lot of traffic, and in need some kind of mass transit service … you have to rely on your transit agency to get the funding for a new route,” Hellman said. “But we are here to offer people the ability to create their own bus routes.”

The platforms allow commuters to submit route suggestions, preferred drop-off points, and departures times. If a proposal receives enough votes — some companies require 50 — then a bus is chartered for the service.

Trips generally aren’t confirmed until a good share of the seats are sold.

For daily commuters, the services generally aim to complement existing transit options — expanding capacity during morning and evening rush hours and in some cases providing service to transit deserts or underserved communities.

They also facilitate transportation to events that draw huge crowds, such as this year’s Women’s March on Washington, which drew hundreds of thousands of participants, many of whom crowdsourced bus rides through the New York-based Rally app.

As transit agencies in cities like Washington and New York face chronic breakdowns and service lapses, demand for these alternative travel options from frustrated riders is likely to grow, experts say. Rising rider dissatisfaction with traditional options is giving tech companies a good testing opportunity for innovative services, just as Americans’ discontent with the taxi industry led to the rapid proliferation of Uber and Lyft.

“The danger is that people get to like those options more than public transit. That would be a disaster,” said Jarrett Walker, a transit planning consultant based in Portland.

But more worrisome, he said, would be to have people flee transit to return to vehicles that would further clog roads.

If the services are adding capacity during rush hours and reducing the number of single-vehicle trip then experts say, they can be beneficial to cities trying to reduce congestion and struggling with their transit systems.

“Anything that efficiently gets people to travel in fewer vehicles instead of more vehicles is valuable for the functioning of the city,” Walker said.

The scope of service these companies provide is generally limited to peak-hour commutes and special events, so they are not large-scale competition for public transit systems, which usually offer a wide network of bus and rail connections.

But the services aren’t always successful. Like many app-based start-ups in the world of ride sharing, launches are frequent and shutdowns even more so.

In Washington, a similar micro-transit venture struggled to get off the ground. Bridj, which started in Boston and provided rides based on customer demand, closed abruptly two years after it launched in Washington.

“They can come and go and in a lot of markets they are still trying to figure out what works, and it doesn’t work in every market,” said Peter Pantuso, president of the American Bus Association, which has 4,000 members including motor coach operators.

Chariot, a crowdsourced commuter shuttle service that started in San Francisco in 2014, has expanded to Austin, Seattle and New York in recent months.

Acquired by Ford last year, the service can take as many as 14 passengers from home to work. Unlike other companies that only provide the technology to connect passengers to existing charter bus companies, Chariot owns its vehicles. It operates more than 200 vans in the Bay Area.

This month the company launched two routes in New York, one from the Lower East Side to midtown Manhattan, and the other in Brooklyn.

As Chariot settles in New York, company officials say they are taking votes from commuters to build new routes. Chariot’s tool allows people to pitch a new route and if the proposal gets 49 supporters within a month, Chariot will consider launching it.

“A better commute for you — and your neighbors — is in your hands,” the company says.

The services say their prices are comparable to those of public transit, and in some cases include features such as free WiFi and USB charging ports. Ourbus’s one-way trip from West Orange, N.J., on the new Livingston route is $7.75, while the New Jersey transit bus option can cost $8.55. The app Skedaddle facilitates the ride from Morristown, N.J., to New York’s Penn Station via bus for $13; New Jersey Transit’s train ride is $14. Chariot offers monthly passes ranging from $69 to $119, and it allows commuters to use their tax benefits for the service.

Tech companies have found an appealing market in the New York metropolitan area, which has faced mounting transit problems, including derailments, breakdowns and chronic delays on its subway.

OurBus’s Livingston to Manhattan route launched just in time for Penn Station’s shut down of three tracks as part of extensive repair work that is inconveniencing thousands of rail commuters this summer.

The company recently began testing trips to Washington from upper Manhattan and Paramus, N.J., providing service in underserved areas of the New York area where there is demand for bus service to the nation’s capital. It added a route from Brooklyn to Washington for Labor Day weekend. The company is exploring commuter routes from the Northern Virginia suburbs, Hellman said, where it could take advantage of existing HOT lanes and a robust demand for commuter services. Commuter buses in the region carry 10,000 to 12,0000 people every day from Maryland and Virginia, according to the bus association.

Pantuso said the surge in crowdsourcing apps is expanding the bus business in some ways and adding competition in others.

Companies that provide commuter bus services are seeing new competition, and even reporting losses in ridership. But the crowdsourcing for special events, is creating or expanding the bus market and the travel opportunities for customers who might not have known or been aware there was any kind of service available or who didn’t have a large enough group to charter a bus.

“The bus company might not have been offering that service so they are getting a new ridership out of it,” Pantuso said.

In some markets, including the popular New York to D.C. route, transportation companies could feel the pinch if more competition is added.

“Are they going to be expanding the market or are they going to take from what’s already there? I think that is the question,” Pantuso said. “They will tell you they are going to expand it, but I don’t know if they know the answer to that.”

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From: Glenn Petersen9/10/2017 10:16:05 PM
   of 664
Court battle over one driver’s pay could have big impact on “gig economy”

Was Raef Lawson an employee or a business owner when he drove for GrubHub?

Joe Mullin -
ars technica
9/5/2017, 1:33

SAN FRANCISCO—The first big trial over worker rights in the "gig economy" begins today, and it could answer fundamental questions about how workers in the digital age should be treated, as well as what kinds of benefits, breaks, and pay they're entitled to.

The case that's beginning right now doesn't have a big-name, deep-pocketed defendant like Uber. Rather, the case is the lesser-known Lawson v. Grubhub. Plaintiff Raef Lawson sued Grubhub in 2015, claiming he wasn't properly paid for his work while driving around delivering food for Grubhub. If Lawson was an employee, he'd be eligible for benefits like insurance, unemployment, and reimbursement for expenses like gas and phone bills. He'd have to be paid at least minimum wage and get state-mandated breaks. Lawson was fired from Grubhub because, the company said, he didn't adequately respond to delivery requests.

Lawson can only seek damages, like back pay and additional penalties, for himself. His request to make the case a class action was denied by US Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley. Even if Lawson wins a complete victory, it's hardly enough to make much difference to a company like Grubhub, which is becoming a growing force in the food-delivery space and announced last month that it will purchase Yelp's Eat24 service.

The case is bigger than Lawson, though. Whatever precedent is set will make a big difference for Grubhub and other gig economy giants going forward. Lawson is seeking damages under a state law known as the Private Attorneys General Act, or PAGA. That law can result in high financial penalties for violations, but it only applies to employees, not contractors.

If Lawson's quest for additional pay and benefits succeeds, others will surely follow, and the "gig economy" companies could be facing additional hundreds of millions in expenses. If he fails, this new breed of employers will be able to take a tougher stand on their employment rules and will be less likely to budge in the face of worker legal claims.

More gigs, more conflictsStarting just a few years ago, a new breed of mobile app startups began to offer various types of transportation and delivery services. To do the manpower-intensive jobs like delivering food and groceries, they hired freelance workers who could start and stop their shifts when desired.

It didn't take long before a few workers became dissidents in that "gig economy" and found lawyers who would help them. They argued that they should be treated not as "independent contractors" but as employees, with all the attendant rights—including reimbursed expenses, mandated break times, and minimum wages.

Finding one of the new gig economy companies that hasn't been hit with some type of labor lawsuit is just about impossible. Caviar (food delivery), Postmates (shipping), Homejoy (cleaning), and Instacart (groceries) have all been sued. The biggest target in the gig economy, Uber, settled a lawsuit over the employee vs. contractor issue last year, agreeing to pay up to $100 million in cash to drivers but keeping their contractor status. In March, competitor Lyft settled similar claims for $27 million.

The trial started this morning and is expected to last around two weeks. It is a bench trial, meaning there is no jury involved.

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (579)9/11/2017 2:09:47 PM
From: TimF
   of 664
A lot of people want to put everyone in to specific boxes, have a lot of rules for whatever box someone is considered part of, and have a lot of lawsuits and regulatory enforcement if they think your box has the wrong label on it, instead of letting people and companies find new ways to deal with each other.

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To: TimF who wrote (580)9/14/2017 10:09:19 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
1 Recommendation   of 664
A Lawson victory has the potential to hobble a new business model that has created hundreds of thousands of mew jobs. Regulators will pile on.

The contractors took those gigs voluntarily. Regulators should let market forces determine the appropriate compensation. If it insufficient, workers will seek other employment and the companies will have to adjust their compensation packages.

If Lawson's quest for additional pay and benefits succeeds, others will surely follow, and the "gig economy" companies could be facing additional hundreds of millions in expenses. If he fails, this new breed of employers will be able to take a tougher stand on their employment rules and will be less likely to budge in the face of worker legal claims.

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From: Glenn Petersen9/14/2017 10:15:14 PM
   of 664
Japan's Softbank wants to invest $10 billion in Uber, but only if it gets a big discount

Alexei Oreskovic
Business Insider
September 14, 2017

Softbank chairman Masayoshi Son Koki Nagahama/Getty Images

Softbank is in talks with Uber about a massive $10 billion investment in the company, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

The deal could give Japan's Softbank as much as a 22% stake in the ride-hailing company if it is able to carry out the full investment, which would entail purchasing shares directly from the company as well as from existing shareholders looking to cash out, the report said.

Uber was last valued at $69 billion. But according to the WSJ report, Softbank is trying to convince shareholder to agree to an auction process that would price Uber shares at a discount and value the company at $50 billion.

Softbank declined to comment to Business Insider. Uber did not immediately return requests for comment.

The talks come as Uber seeks to move past nearly a year of controversy and scandals that culminated in cofounder Travis Kalanick stepping down from the CEO job in June. Last month Uber hired Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to fill the CEO slot vacated by Kalanick.

The tumultuous management changes have been accompanied by bitter infighting among different factions of company insiders and investors. Benchmark Capital, one of Uber's largest investors, sued Kalanick in August, alleging that the Uber cofounder fraudulently obtain control of three company board seats. The lawsuit provoked a bizarre declaration of war from another high-profile Uber investor, who vowed to strike back at the "unholy alliance" of "sanctimonious hypocrites."

A deal with Softbank would mark Khosrowshahi's first major action since taking the reins. Negotiations began before Khosrowshahi was hired and could conclude as early as next week the WSJ reported citing an anonymous source.

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From: Glenn Petersen9/21/2017 11:15:16 PM
1 Recommendation   of 664
How the Sharing Economy Liberates Us

by Paz Gómez
American Institute for Economic Research
Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Saving and generating additional revenue are now easier due to technological progress and a wave of innovation. A new business model has achieved a competitive advantage around the world and is growing by leaps and bounds. The sharing economy challenges the contemporary social order and destabilizes traditional businesses.

These initiatives cater to the new needs of individuals, and their swift rise testifies to the obsolescence of the traditional economic models of our societies.

Merely a century ago, we dispatched with the sky as a limit when in 1903 a plane built by the Wright brothers flew successfully. The first manned spacecraft, in 1961, demonstrated that there are no limits to human creation and exploration. No social structure is fixed; knowledge is constantly evolving; and no man-made system is perfect.

The conventional approach to commerce, which fences off and excludes personal assets, leaves resources idle and impedes allocative efficiency. The sharing or peer-to-peer economy arises from what a group of researchers at the Wroclaw University of Economics (WUE) describe as the principle of sustainable consumption: meeting the needs of consumers without ownership transfer via "resource sharing."

The WUE team identify other benefits associated with the sharing economy, such as greater socialization and better information for feedback on quality. Peer-to-peer businesses decentralize and democratize the economy, serving those of limited means and staving off irresponsible use of resources. Some advocates of these enterprises suggest that they are "alternatives to capitalism," since their narrow perception assumes vertical corporate structures — in contrast to the new horizontal structures with more efficient and dispersed use of resources.

Free-market capitalism, however, consists of guaranteeing individual rights. As Thomas DiLorenzo writes in How Capitalism Saved America, these include "private property, division of labor, social cooperation, freedom of contract, and voluntary exchange," and capitalism rejects "excessive public regulation and taxes." The sharing economy requires that individuals be free to make their own decisions about voluntary transactions with their physical or intellectual belongings.

Therefore, these new business models affirm rather than challenge the free market or its results. They push back against both inefficient business practices and the overdose of regulation and government intervention. We can say overdose because the top-down paradigm that prevails, both in the United States and elsewhere, imposes financial, economic, and institutional barriers that hinder entrepreneurship, favor monopolies, and disrupt the free flow and distribution of resources.

The collaborative economy has emerged as an option to avoid and often evade these regulations by utilizing the communications technology that we have at our fingertips in the 21st century. In other words, innovative business models allow resource allocation to respond to the spontaneity of the human mind, which craves freedom and personal and economic well-being.

The best evidence of the sharing economy's threat to the status quo is the desperation of governments to prohibit and regulate these new forms of exchange. We have seen this with Uber, Cabify, Airbnb, bitcoin, and many others. Collaborative businesses erode privileges and favor meritocracy, since a platform's success depends on the breadth of the market and the level of trust and value that the users maintain.

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From: FUBHO9/22/2017 10:20:16 AM
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To: FUBHO who wrote (584)9/22/2017 5:20:29 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 664
London's Uber Ban Is a Big Brexit Mistake

Why would tech companies want to invest in the U.K. and subject themselves to such a slap in the face?

by Tyler Cowen
Bloomberg View
September 22, 2017

How much to Heathrow?
Photographer: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Prime Minister Theresa May made a big speech Friday on Brexit negotiations, but the bigger news coming out of London may have been that the transit authority, Transport for London, decided not to renew the license of Uber Technologies Inc. to operate inside city limits. The decision is a clear statement that the future of both London and the U.K. are less bright than we might have thought even a few days ago.

Banning Uber shows that a post-Brexit nation won’t be the libertarian paradise that many Brexit advocates have been predicting or at least clamoring for. The notion was that European Union regulation was horribly restrictive, and British business would blossom under a reign of newfound freedom, if only it could be left to its own devices. Although that was never very plausible to begin with, it was a common argument from Brexit supporters such as MP Daniel Hannan. It’s now hard to raise that point with any credibility.

The new Britain appears to be a nationalistic, job-protecting, quasi-mercantilist entity, as evidenced by the desire to preserve the work and pay of London’s traditional cabbies. That’s hardly the right signal to send to a world considering new trade deals or possibly foreign investment in the U.K. Uber, of course, is an American company, and it did sink capital into setting up in London -- and its reputational capital is on the line in what is still Europe’s most economically important city. This kind of slap in the face won’t exactly encourage other market entrants, including in the dynamic tech sector that London so desperately seeking.

A striking feature of this decision is the use of an outright ban rather than a gentler negotiation. Whether or not you agree with them, there are plausible criticisms of Uber. You might think the drivers need stronger security checks, the company needs to be removed from congested areas, it should pay more for local infrastructure, its drivers face subpar labor standards, and so on. Those worries, to the extent they are true, would suggest some mix of higher regulations and taxes for Uber. Yet the announcement of a pending ban is sending a broader signal to London and indeed British business that due regulatory process might be weak moving forward. It’s enough to make one long for the arduous, multistage regulatory decision processes of the EU.

The good news is that the announcement did seem to leave open the possibility of revision through the appeals process. The London transit authority cited Uber’s approach to crime reporting and medical certification, as well as a lack of transparency to regulators as reasons for the ban. That suggests a revamped Uber might stand a chance. In the meantime, the service is up and running.

But is the best way to deal with business regulation to take dramatic moves that grab headlines and fill my Twitter feed? Or does this tend to politicize and polarize opinion on what should be more narrowly technocratic issues?

The Uber ban might seem like a kind of populist measure, but from the consumer side it is likely to harm wealthy Londoners the least, or perhaps even benefit them. I’ve taken many cab rides and Uber rides in London, and in general I find the cabs to be pretty expensive. But they offer better service. You can find one right away, the drivers have a remarkable and indeed fabled knowledge of London roads, they are on the whole good drivers, and the vehicles are large and comfortable. I prefer to take London cabs over London Uber, even when Uber might be cheaper.

Over time, let’s say Uber would continue to encroach upon the cab business. It then becomes harder to hail cabs, as arguably is already the case. Uber fares might be lower, but the average quality of the ride would be lower too. That’s a better deal for poorer people, and an inferior deal for the well-off. Wealthy people are just fine with paying more and getting the better service. So in essence the Uber ban is locking in a system that harms poorer Londoners the most. Keep in mind the London Tube is not 24/7, and cabs are often more reluctant to pick up customers from dicier neighborhoods.

Of course, London cabbies are better off from the ban, and there are anecdotal reports of them celebrating in the streets. That’s sooner a sign of bad public policy than a beneficial act for London users and riders, numbering about 2.5 million for Uber. Although cabbies are likely to see higher incomes, an estimated 40,000 people are driving for Uber in London. They will have a harder time making ends meet.

Unfortunately, the U.K. is in a position where it can’t afford too many more mistakes. It just made one.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Tyler Cowen at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Stacey Shick at

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (585)9/22/2017 5:26:14 PM
   of 664
I'm confused why that writer is equating the London ban with nationwide policies.

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