As we embark on the first month of this exciting new year, travelers everywhere are not thinking twice about paying complete strangers for a place to sleep, sharing a car with their neighbor, leaving their dog with a host or sharing a snowboard lesson. It has all become so common and an every day theme for most of us.
One of the awesome things about this trend is it provides middle-class Americans a platform to entrepreneurship. People tend to feel shut out of entrepreneurship opportunities due to lack of available capital. The sharing economy opens up a big door for all. What makes the growth of the sharing economy so exciting for many middle income people is the opportunity to use the items they aren’t currently using (cars, houses, baseball tickets) to create a supplemental income.
Businesses and individuals alike are investing in the sharing economy more and more every day. Over the past 15 years, nearly $26 billion has flooded the sharing market.” says Jeremiah Owyang. Airbnb is ranked behind only Uber among travel startups and is valued at $25.5 billion. Airbnb, which is now in 34,000 cities and 190 countries, had a total of 30 million guests in 2015 alone, according to Collaborative Consumption. A recent FORBES analysis of Uber, the ride-sharing giant showed that the company is expanding into new areas at an astonishing pace — about 30 new cities in the last 30 days. The company is currently in 53 countries and more than 250 cities. General Motors, gazing into the future invested $500 million into Lyft (Uber’s top competitor), earlier in the month.
It’s looking more and more likely that sharing economy giants Uber and Airbnb may seriously consider taking the next step into IPO, driven by the Federal Reserve’s recent rate increase. The past decade's low-interest environment has made it very lucrative for these companies to fund their own growth by borrowing private capital through venture funds that could get a lot higher return on investment from these unicorn companies. As interest rates rise the unicorns will ultimately find fewer investors, forcing these recent startups into the stock market. Looking for ways to raise private capital will open up many new doors for them.
So what does this mean for 2016? This year, workers will need to learn how to become entrepreneurial and be prepared to adapt to find revenue streams. Companies must understand how to manage and adapt to a freelance workforce and we will see a lot more investing in the sharing economy. Schools and universities will be adapting to how to prepare their students for their future. It’s all part of evolution and Near Me is very proud to be such an active part of it.