Flip the Media, 9 March 2013
AirBnb, etsy and Relay Rides are the current poster children of the sharing economy. If you don’t know what that is, it’s also called collaborative consumption or peer-to-peer selling. In other words, just fancy names for one person selling or renting their stuff to another person. Clearly this is not a new idea but it has never really been possible to do it on such a large scale. In the case of a site like Etsy – which describes itself as a global marketplace for unique goods, from furniture to food – they have allowed the local artisan to take his or her products far beyond the confines of their communities, towns, cities or countries and sell to a global market.
Tim O’Reilly, tech venture capital pioneer and CEO of O’Reilly Media, moderated a panel at SXSW Interactive with Nate Blecharczyk, CTO and co-founder of AirBnb, Juliet Gorman, communications director of Etsy, and Shelby Clark, founder of Relay Rides, and they explored some drivers of growth in the sharing economy as well as what it takes to be successful. It kind of goes without saying that the convergence of social networks, commercial payment, distribution and logistics technology – and perhaps a greater willingness for people to explore alternative income streams in tough economic times – created the right conditions for peer-to-peer selling to take off.