In crowded metropolises where a lot of residents forego car ownership in favor of car-sharing services like Zipcar and Car2Go and ride-hailing apps like Lyft and Uber, the idea that owning your own vehicle is a necessity seems increasingly anachronistic.
Get used to that, because the idea of collective ownership is only going to spread from there, Zipcar cofounder Robin Chase said Tuesday at the iCONIC conference in Seattle. "Ultimately we will share everything and we will have to share everything," she predicted.
The popular line of thinking is that the sharing and on-demand economies are pushing more people into freelance and piecemeal work, which is arguably a tougher way of supporting yourself than a full-time job with benefits. Chase offers another perspective. She sees an effective use of resources, exponential in its efficacy.
Chase points to Airbnb as a key example. Think of it as bed-sharing, she says. That may sound icky, but bed-sharing already existed; it's what hotels do. Just as hotels strive to optimize their occupancy, Airbnb is a form of bed sharing that uses resources that are already surplus. With Airbnb touting 650,000 beds, according to Chase, "Every sector of the economy should be terrified, and they are."
The ultimate impact of making more efficient use of surplus resources will be positive, says Chase. For one, it's good for the environment. And also, she thinks "industrial capitalism" as she refers to it is outmoded. People using companies' products and services shouldn't be thought of as consumers but co-creators, in Chase's book. (Meaning not just in her talk Tuesday but in her actual book, Peers Inc., published last year.)
"Capitalism is on very shaky grounds, the world of work is really nerve wracking," she says.
She sees the solution in the Airbnbs, Zipcars and Duolingos of the world -- companies that she says rely on pooling resources and minds and data to create disproportionate economic value.