The Alliances Form in the Collaborative Economy Battleground

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Above: Screenshot from the story board on how corporations can fight or join the collaborative economy.

Taking a look back at last two week’s event show some interesting twists, the crowd is continuing to organize around getting what they need from each other, rather than from corporations. For the advanced corporations who’ve entered the collaborative economy,  they’ve formed partnerships to strengthen their own ecosystem.


[Business models and tempers change as the crowd gets what they need from each other –rather than corporations]


It’s important to state that this is a continuation of social business. The next phase of social business isn’t just sharing ideas, but the sharing of goods and services.  People can share goods and services with each other  (like Lyft, Airbnb, Yerdle and more)–without having to purchase from corporations. Notice the trend? Social media dis-intermediated corporate communications –and now the same trend is happening to goods and services.

One of my desires is to look for patterns, and I’m seeing these tension points arise as power shifts hands, here’s four distinct events in the last two weeks that highlight the energy in this growing space:

  1. Taxi drivers unify and protest against peer-to-peer ride services.  SF taxi drivers who’re losing money from ride and car sharing services revolt, they picket and protest at SF City hall.  I’ve met Lyft drivers (regular citizens who will drive you around like a friend, for a tip) who have been yelled at, spat on, and called “Scab” by angry taxi drivers.   It’s impossible to stop this trend, as newly arrived UberX cars are driven by regular people, and have no distinguishing marks.  Read the analysis on brand sentiment comparing Uber vs Taxis –the crowd sentiment favors peer ride services over Taxis.
  2. Yet California Public Utilities Commission proposes legal approval.  California lawmakers are discussing legalizing peer based car rides, even as SF Mayor engages with a sharing program around emergencies.  This movement seeks to legitimize peer to peer car rides, by applying some standards, and I’ll assert this is a direct way to obtain additional tax revenues.   Once this landmark battle is addressed, it will set precedent for home sharing, money sharing, good sharing, food sharing, and beyond.
  3. Established Regis and Zipcar (by Avis) form a partnership.  Massive praise to innovative Zipcar (owned by Avis) and Regus (we’re a client) who’ve partnered up to allow customers of on-demand car sharing to now receive discounts at on-demand office spaces.  This bodes well, and I could expect to see other forms of on-demand food, workers, and hotels on demand emerge to suit this same vein.  This is a smart move for corporations to align with each other, offering additional value peer to peer sharing can’t.
  4. Sharing startups form alliance, with big implications, called  Watch this group,, closely.  I was able to talk to founder Natalie Foster, who was a former digital strategist on the Obama campaign (famed for grassroots online democracy), who shared with me the mission of this advocacy group, containing 22 collaborative economy startups like Airbnb, Lyft, TaskRabbit, Shareable, and more (Businessweek has more).  This group will enable people to post their causes online, and then generate global advocacy for the sharing revolution.  They also can help the startups themselves built a massive network that could content with corporations.
Breakdown:  Crowd and Corporate Alliances in the Collaborative Economy
Crowd Alliances Corporate Alliances
Definition The sharing startups: Like Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, NextDoor, Lendingclub, Liquidspace Fortune 1000 corporations like BMW, Marriott, Regus, Avis, Enterprise Holdings, WellsFargo, and beyond
Examples enables the sharing startups to work together forming a powerful collective of shared voice, and potentially market strategy. Corporate alliances like Zipcar and Regus are the first phases, expect other lobbyist to provide power and corporations to get involved.
Strengths Fast and flexible, crowd-powered, VC-backed. Break the rules, barter for forgiveness later. A people’s movement ties in with democracy, empowered individuals, and Occupy movement themes. Trusted and established brand. Large set of loyal customers. Massive distribution and resources. Working capital.
Challenge Fragmented set of companies, some directly competitive. Lack a trusted long term ‘brand’ like established corporations, lack an established customer base, lack systemized infrastructure, lack standardized experiences. Slow moving companies, with first instict is to fight a disruption, rather than adopt. Saddleded with regulations, they lack flexibility, and innovation. Some standard services may not appeal to those seeking local and personal experiences. Often more expensive than crowd-based services.
Opportunity Standardize reputation and ecommerce systems for fluid transactions for people to use all services seamlessly. Tap into the infrastructure, distribution, and supply chain of large corporations. Tap into the crowd for innovation and reduce costs by leveraging the crowd by collaborating. Reduce costs of goods by providing new business models such as on-demand services, a marketplace to yield new transactions and sell new value added services.

What this means to corporations:

The crowd isn’t going to wait for a corporation to get their social media center of excellence in place to get what they need, these disruptions are happening at the pace of the crowd’s desires. Corporations must quickly realize the following three insights:

  • Energy is shifting from institutions to the crowd.  Angry taxi drivers, hotel lobbyists fighting Airbnb, and aggressive marketing highlight the friction as power, and money shifts from established groups to the crowd-based groups.   One reason I’m so focused on this movement is when I see customers move away from corporations, I run (not walk) to this disruption to uncover what’s happening, in hopes to help corporations catch up.
  • A battle is being fought at individual city, state, and other levels.  The natural reaction of institutions, businesses is to fight it.  The pattern of attacks are illegal activity, unsafe, poor quality and unreliable.  As a result, the sharing revolution starts to self-organize their own advocacy (and potentially crowd based lobbying group) through to self-organize.
  • Innovative corporations who seek to thrive will collaborate.   Companies don’t need to fight this unstoppable internet movement, but instead can collaborate with this movement and make their products available on demand, motivate a marketplace around them, or provide a platform for customers to build on top of them.

The future could mean a connected collaborative economy ecosystem –disruptive to corporations. Do watch, who could align the collaborative economy ecosystem into a single force.  With the 22 (and more coming) startups that are part of the collaborative economy,  they could standardize currency, profiles, reputations, and enable people to get homes, rooms for rents, office space, jobs, goods, food, and more from each other –rather than buying from traditional corporations.   If you want to learn how your corporation can be involved, read the full report on the Collaborative Economy, read a curation of stats, a list of startups, and a list of corporations who’ve moved in.




13 Replies to “The Alliances Form in the Collaborative Economy Battleground”

  1. Thoughtful and informative post Jeremiah. What you’ve outlined reminds me of the change Napster triggered in the 90s when the music industry fought to disrupt the sharing of music. It’s hard to stop the crowd once they’ve embraced something they value.

  2. That is *exactly* the same model.

    Peer to peer sharing in media, news, and journalism disrupted that industry.

    The same is now happening to every other industry, starting with hospitality and transportation.

    Next is restaurants, retail, banking.

    The first phase of social is sharing of ideas and media, the second phase is goods and services.

  3. Agree – it’s already happening in banking. While the great recession causing a drought in small business lending with traditional banks, others saw opportunity and started filling the gap., SoMoLend, and CircleUp all offer interesting examples.

    Looking forward to more of your reporting on this business evolution (or should we say revolution).

  4. I am still very curious how the Collaborative Economy will either collide or compromise with the Regulated Economy. Compliance/Regulatory issues have shown up in some places but when agencies like the SEC, FCC, IRS and other agencies with strict governmental regulations are involved, how will that either work with or against the Collaborative Economy.

  5. Quick, that’s exactly the points I was making above. Regulators are closely peering, those who were disrupted are protesting, and those that are sharing are arming up as a collective to explain their point of view.

    What’s interesting is this: Some of this sharing of goods and services can be done with your Facebook friends (your REAL neighbors and friends) should that be regulated? If so, how much?

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