If Hillary Clinton can do something for Silicon Valley, it's this: Be a champion of innovation in the so-called sharing economy. That was message several tech company chief executives delivered to the Democratic presidential candidate in a secret meeting Thursday, according to Tri Tran, an attendee and the CEO of the on-demand meal-delivery service Munchery. 

“The sharing economy and on-demand services are already growing at an alarming rate and entering mainstream culture throughout the nation, so it’s best policy makers and tech leaders work together to make this new economy as successful as it can be,” Tran told Inc. in response to an email about the content of the meeting.

Executives of Airbnb, Box, Lyft, Instacart, and other companies attended the meeting. Tran said he hoped Clinton would come to support the companies of the so-called sharing economy. The Clinton campaign had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publishing, but this story will be updated if it does. 

“I’d argue it’s never been a better time to become a freelancer,” Tran wrote. “With the help of the government, our companies and the employees we support can thrive.”

He said the executives did not criticize Clinton for her previously expressed views. The presidential candidate has in the past criticized sharing-economy companies for their worker classification practices that she has said raise questions about “what a good job will look like in the future.”

Tran said the executives discussed with Clinton the idea of coming up with a third classification for a sharing-economy worker, something other than the 1099-form contractor or W-2 form employee “that characterized the employment of someone who only drives for Uber and Munchery for a living, as well as possibly hosting on Airbnb.”

Clinton did not express any difference of opinion with those present, he wrote, but “was warm and receptive to all of our thoughts.”

Tran added that while Clinton is "rightfully critical" of some elements of the gig economy, his impression was that she was mostly interested in understanding the views of those at the meeting. His comments suggest that Clinton may be shifting away from her role as the anti-Uber candidate. 

"She seems like an advocate and interested in making this new economy work well for all the workers, leaders and policy makers involved," said Tran. 


Published on: Aug 7, 2015