I love the new sharing economy and the interconnectedness of the human experience. My intent is to help people do more with less stuff. I'm in the process of co-authoring a practical guide to the new sharing economy titled 'It's a Shareable Life' and I'm also working on getting purposeful entrepreneurs to destination cowork in different parts of the world with the burgeoning community at Startup Abroad.
Car sharing will transform in the next decade as self-driving cars and buses become the status quo. My hope is that we can retool the cars we already have to become driverless.
Ownership is going through a phase of questioning, a revolution of sorts - why own a car when we all we really need is access? What we want is to get from point a to point b - not the hunk of metal and responsibility that ownership requires. My bet is that car sharing will really take off when we no longer need to drive, own or be attached to the identity or social status that owning a car currently provides and this will be the turning point when going carless will be the new symbol of freedom.
Less idle time & more flexibility
Of course even with self-driving cars and transport systems, there will still be car hobbyists, race fanatics and people who enjoy the slow coast of a Sunday drive from behind the wheel. However, these new wave, truly smart vehicles will really open up our culture to more time and flexibility. The mental capacity it takes to control and direct a vehicle to and from work on a daily basis is immense, not to mention time consuming. That freed up time could be used creatively or as work hours - giving more potential to travel greater distances and live in more remote locations outside of urban life.
How will technology change the human element of sharing?
At the moment, we see services like SideCar and Lyft (ride sharing) as well as GetAround and Wheelz (car sharing) - but the need for someone to hand another their keys will likely be replaced by advances in technology and the requirement for having a driver will dissipate. So the next question is how will the sharing economy will evolve over time to remain human? How can we continue helping people get their needs met on a peer-to-peer basis without the sharing economy turning into a simple asset reallocation system?
What currently makes the sharing economy beautiful is the human connections established by virtue of necessity - so how will this change? Or wil it? That's a topic for another time.
A year in the making, It's a Shareable Life is nearly ready for prime time - that is, with the kindness and generosity of strangers who can help make the book a reality. You see, we need money for the last round to help pay the editors, print books and get the book out in as many mediums as possible so that we can spread the message of the sharing economy far beyond the borders of the Silicon Valley - into middle America, the South, smaller more rural communities off the beaten path who could really benefit from knowing how to save money, make money, conserve resources and have access to their dreams all at once!
The possibilities were something we had to share
12 months ago, Gabriel, Alex and I sat around talking incessantly about the possibilities of the sharing economy. We'd talk about our adventures with Couchsurfing (and the documentary we made One Couch at a Time) and how Airbnb was transforming our idea of a stranger and of empty space. And then I'd rely most own experience of how lending our cars could drastically reduce the cost of ownership.
As we interviewed founders from all over the sharing economy and met with the users to discover their experience - this book became a no-brainer. It was something we had to do to give back, to contribute and to spread the love we'd encountered through the transformative experience that the sharing economy provides.
You can call it asset reallocation, collaborative consumption or anything you want, but the fact is that the way we're doing business is changing. Now just as anyone is a producer or a consumer online, the same is true in the sharing economy - only it's the offline equivalent. Anyone can become a micro-preneur by driving people around through SideCar or offering up their spare bedroom on Airbnb. And conversely anyone can be a guest in a strangers home or get a ride from a community member they've never met.
We're at an intersection of community over individualism
We're at an intersection where it makes more sense to spend less, do more and have a more flexible life. No longer are we suckered in by the myth that ownership will give us peace at the end of the rainbow of happiness.
We've unearthed a new paradigm where community replaces individualism, sharing provides access over ownership and truly connecting trumps transacting. While we have a long road to go, society is moving toward more oneness. We starting to see that even the veins of the economy that we are all part of the same organism. We can't keep denying that we need one another! Whether it's in clear-cut linear form such as how connected our financial structures are or through the experience of bonding with another human being while getting our needs met - these examples illustrate what's inherently true. Everything is connected.
The guide is written to teach, show and tell the story of sharing
This book has been written as a how-to guide on purpose - to reach people where they think they most need to be reached in an immediate sense - economically. If people can see how the sharing economy will lead them to saving hundreds of dollars per month and potentially earning thousands, that might just be enough to make them consider taking the leap of trust that's necessary to let a stranger stay on their couch or to lend their car to someone random from the internet. The thing is, people begin to share for individual reasons and oftentimes continue because it feels good, it feels right - it feels like a sense of belonging that you just don't get from hotels, car rental agencies and big box corporations.
If it calls to you, please help us
If you can, please pre-purchase a copy of the book to support this endeavor or if you're a sharing economy company and want a more involved, please
. I'd love to talk about ways that we can help each other spread this powerful, coming of age message to as many people as can muster hearing it.
I've been wondering what the deal with Coffee & Power is for more than a year now. There was this really swank space with desks (plus wifi, coffee and power of course) on Market Street in San Francisco and it was FREE! As it turns out, it was largely an experiment in watching the way that people work together, collaborate and co-create serendipity in business and beyond backed by Second Life founder, Philip Rosendale.
A few weeks ago, The Future of Work speaker series started with Phil Rosendale as the headliner. I hadn't heard anything about him for ages and I love thinking about, investigating and participating in creating the future of work. After coworking at NextSpace in Santa Cruz for several years starting in 2008 and then following on with my own destination coworking camp in Bali this year, I'm more than excited about what's to come. When anywhere is everywhere things will get interesting.
It turns out, Phil is creating Coffee & Power as an iPhone/Android app to help people find one another, sync up based on interests and "thank" one another for a job well done in one sentence. The app itself was created by more than 60 people (20 developers) using freelancer collaboration software found at worklist.net.
On it's own, Worklist is a view into the future of transparent collaboration using remote freelancers to create a startup. The idea is that if you chunk down a project into bite-sized pieces where UX designers, developers and others can bid, win projects and collaborate all in the same interface, you don't need everyone to be on site.
Which brings me to... THE FUTURE OF WORK.
At the talk, hosted at Citizen Space one of the first and most community-oriented coworking spaces in San Francisco, Phil excitedly woo-ed the crowd of hopeful startup founders with tales of how Second Life had to be built creatively with entrepreneurial types. He went on to crack a joke about how "Serial Entrepreneur" is a career choice the same way a dentist is a career choice in no where else, but the Silicon Valley.
Ha, as a founder you have a 20% chance of success. "Does the San Francisco simply breed crazy people?"
Why is it that so many startup founders flock to start their companies in the Bay Area?
The fact is, getting work after you fail is easy. There is so much work that to lily pad from one project or idea to another is more feasible in the Silicon Valley than anywhere else.
Using LinkedIn to find people who titled themselves founders/co-founders, San Francisco beat out all other cities with 370 people per 100,000 trailing with 51 people per 100,000 somewhere like New York for comparisons sake.
When Second Life was being built, they agreed to never have an office and the team worked from coffee shops, cafes and even bars. Though, working from a bar never worked!
Today, there are 50,000 coworking seats worldwide with that number doubling every year.
Another reason people are crazy enough to come fail in San Francisco or the Silicon Valley is that people are open and transparent about whatever it is that they are working on. "If you're in Paris or London, you don't tell anyone what you're doing. New York is not a whole lot better."
The reality is, it doesn't matter if you tell someone else. If you find out you're competing it's almost a bonus - maybe you can work together?!
"We're good on our own, but we're better together and serendipitous interactions add up. Coffee shops, coworking, events, meetups - chance encounters. And we still don't talk to each other as much as we could."
Coffee & Power aims to create density of freelancers and entrepreneurs based on location and does two things very well:
1.) Shows you who and where other people are working The app integrates with LinkedIn to give you detailed information If you've been somewhere before, you can auto-check in to set it and forget it It even logs your hours
2.) Let's you thank and endorse people with one sentence, which you can attach to a skill
And now that you're stoked on the future of work, read this ZDNet article published today: Is the future of work social? I'd say... ummm yeah... no duh. ;)
When I first moved to San Francisco, I witnessed the cold reality that owning a car kills the freedom driving originally promised me.
In a city, owning a car doesn't make me free. Rather it adds responsibility, expense and anxiety.
Let's see if ditching my car in favor of the sharing economy will provide a better lifestyle or just an empty promise...
Hidden costs of owning a car in San Francisco
Within two weeks of moving from Santa Cruz to San Francisco, my car was towed twice costing more than $1,200. Between paying over one thousand dollars in stupidity tax and getting tickets for things I didn't even know about like curbing my wheels or parking in spot that's near a crosswalk, I'd about had it.
Instead of giving in and selling my car in favor of public transit and new sharing economy options, I resisted with the stubborn mentality that I could have my cake and eat it too.
After unsuccessfully trying to find a neighbors driveway to park in on Craigslist, I located a parking garage near me that was reasonably priced at $200 per month, only open from 8am-8pm M-Sat. At this point, I could sleep at night without having panic attacks alerting me to the location and safety of my car. I'd literally wake up to a jolt of "Ohhh shit. Where is my car? Akkk what day is street cleaning? What if I missed a sign? Could I have missed a last minute construction zone?!?"
Even with my $200/month garage, nighttime adventures meant street parking as the garage closed at 8pm.
Then there came the realization that I loathe city driving. Add that to the fact that it's a $10 minimum to park anywhere in the city for more than a few hours. And even with meters, I always worried about $70 tickets and an impending tow. (Just as a side: 70,000 cars are towed per year in San Francisco alone)
So then I thought...
Why not just rent my car when I'm not using it?
And then I started using Getaround, making $150-250 per month lending my car out. While that barely covered the cost of parking, it was something. And I loved learning first-hand how car sharing works and what it can mean for our future.
I never put together all of the costs directly associated with owning a car until just recently. In my research, most people spend between $6,000-$10,000 per year on car ownership, whether they own the car or not.
My costs are actually more like $700-800 per month, depending on how much I drive (this includes $144 car payment, $120 insurance, $200 parking, $120 gas, registration, maintenance and parking). You'll notice, this doesn't even include the almost guaranteed cost of parking ticket or getting towed.
Anyway, I digress.
The point is, most cars spend 92% of their lives parked.I can't stand that statistic. This means, this big hunk of metal spends almost all of it's capacity wearing out, immobilized and rusting.
Not to mention the fact that it costs me $800 per month or $9,600 per year to own I car I rarely use. Like most people, my car is the second largest expense, next to my place of residence.
I was skeptical at first about Getaround and especially Zipcar, which seemed cost prohibitive for weekend trips. Now, I understand things differently. I see both GetAround and Zipcar as awesome options for longer trips and out of town excursions. More on that in a bit.
I still needed transportation within the city that wouldn't leave me hanging, stuck or wasting time, left out in the cold.
I swear, I've tried to love SFMTA. BART is fantastic, but living in Lower Pacific Heights means I have to bus most places. There are a few lines that are on target every time and I take those, paying $2.00 per ride. If I have a short meeting, the ticket works both directions as it's good for a few hours.
Much of the time, the buses are late or never come. Plus there are hundreds of unmarked bus stops in San Francisco. I won't even get into the characters that ride the bus or go off an a diatribe about the drivers. You get the picture.
So other options included taxis and uber. I just had my first uber experience a few weeks ago and it got me thinking different about transportation. I thought... wow, if I can get anywhere I want to go immediately without waiting or hesitation, how would my life change?What opportunities would become within reach? How much time could I reassign to other activities? Would I actually save money?
That's when I decided that I'd try taxis more often and try think of them as an investment.
With more than 20 taxi rides under my belt in a short period of time, I wanted to shoot myself in the head. They never knew where they were going and constantly relied on me and my GPS to get them there. They talk on their phone. Often the taxi drivers get all agro when I ask to use a credit card and frequently, even that doesn't work.
They expect the world and provide little more than a vessel to get me somewhere. Not only that, they seem so unhappy. It's a rare occasion that I get a taxi driver who seems glad to see me or provide service to me as a customer... it's more like a favor. And it's expensive! Taxi rates just went up in September of 2011 by 20%, making San Francisco taxis some of the most expensive in the country.
Uber is great, but it's expensive for regular trips. At $40 to get 1.5 miles on a rainy day a few weeks ago, I'd rather walk and save that money for a decent dinner.
You'll subsidize the cost of car ownership and feel good about helping your neighbors out. Plus, you won't have to rest with the knowledge that your second largest expense sits unused most of its life.
Is Zipcar with the price tag?
I never liked Zipcar. I thought it was pricey and an elitist attempt at being green, whatever that means. Overnight trips costs $80-100 per day. What?! I can rent a car for $30-45 per day.
But, take a step back with me.
With Zipcar you can rent newer, nice cars like the VW Mini Cooper, which zips around like a dream. I feel powerful when I drive that little thing.
And say I take HWY 1 to Santa Cruz to visit old friends and zen out for the weekend... normally gas costs me $60+ and I have to work within the limits of my garage which means I have to park on the street when I come home on a Sunday. A Zipcar costs me $200 for 48 hours on a weekend, but the beauty is 180 miles per day are included with gas paid for, which reduces the cost to more like $70 per day.
Then consider that if anything happens to the car, I'm 100% covered with no deductible (with $9 monthly fee), using Zipcar insurance. So that lowers the cost to more like $40 per day for the cost of using the car itself.
And then there is the convenience factor. Zipcar has a zillion cars two blocks from my house in a garage where I can return them 24 hours a day. The only drawback here is that Zipcar requires you to plan ahead and know exactly how long you need the car. It's really difficult to extend or change plans as they have other people to want to reserve the same car.
But the flip side of that is that I can reserve whatever car I want ahead of time and know that it will be there and I can cancel or change my reservation within 3 hours of pickup time with no penalty (for hourly rentals) and a 24 hour cancellation policy with no penalty (for daily rentals).
Using Getaround as a renter
I've only rented a car once through Getaround and my story can be found here in this silly little poorly compiled video, but you'll get the idea of my experience being on the renter side of the equation.
I recently discovered a new service, which a friend who works at airbnb adoringly called "Uber for common folk." While I don't like that delineation, he's right. Most people will not use Uber, which is a private car service that costs nearly two times what a taxi would.
Sidecar is a peer-to-peer taxi service (which can also be explained as a community rideshare) comprised of drivers who volunteer to give people rides and work for donations. The donation is pretty clear and most people pay the suggested donation or beyond to keep the service running.
The amazing thing is that Sidecar is 20-30% cheaper than a taxi and is just as personal and efficient, if not more than uber. When I need to take short trips across town, I'll be using Sidecar and suggest you do too. Please note: The availability of daytime trips are currently spotty as Sidecar is building up driver base in San Francisco. Although, weekends and evenings... you should be good to go.
Sidecar provides the flexibility and personalization of Uber and gets you where you need to go with door-to-door service and a smile. Plus, I can rest easy knowing that the drivers are earning some extra cash as many of them are in between jobs, retirees, students, etc. driving as a volunteer and community member.
Ridesharing on road trips and long hauls
Then there are the long road trips. Sometimes I drive up to Oregon and others I just want to take a short jaunt to Santa Cruz. I love filling the empty seats, covering costs and having company while helping someone out. It meets a slew of my needs all at once!
So while I've had the most success posting rides on Craigslist and Google stalking the heck out of them, I can also recommend Zimride and RideJoy, which integrate the social graph a bit more than Craigslist and give you an idea of how your potential seat mates might be.
Arbitraging Zipcar with Zimride
On my last trip to Santa Cruz, I decided to try arbitraging Zipcar with a Zimrider as another little experiment.
I rented a car on Zipcar and looked for someone to share the ride Santa Cruz by finding someone who wanted to go the same direction on the same day and split the cost.
Zimride finally worked! After the third time trying Ridejoy, Zimride and Craiglist in tandem, I got matched really cool guy who needed a ride to the Cruz.
We took the Mini Coop I'd rented from Zipcar down HWY 1 and had a lovely afternoon discussing life and the meaning of everything. And we even had a relaxing meal along the beach in Half Moon Bay. I got Jesse where he needed to go and arbitraged Zipcar, go figure. ;) I wonder if that's even legal?
I don't need a car
I've been attached to the perceived independence owning a car typically provides.
The reality is - I am more free without a car.
I save money.
I don't stress about tickets or parking.
I give a little love to the environment.
I get places faster.
I make new friends.
While I haven't sold my car yet, my Xterra is parked at a friends house near the outskirts of the city and I haven't driven it for more than a month, only rented it on Getaround.
I'm thrilled to sell the car and utilize the efficient, social sharing economy life has provided me in San Francisco and beyond. Anyone want to buy it?! I'll cut you a deal.
Sidecar is an idea that hasn't even made it to the app store, yet there are over 70 drivers on the system in San Francisco who give up to 20+ rides in a shift. Sidecar is so new that you can't even google the search term 'sidecar' and find it. You can find sidecar at side.cr and if you sign up with my link, you'll get $10 in FREE credit to try out this new revolution in transportation.
Sidecar works on both the iPhone and Android.
Just like airbnb isn't quite a hotel and getaround isn't quite a car rental agency, sidecar is now pushing the limits of how we define taxi service.
Sidecar provides in intermediary between taking a taxi and using uber. The drivers on sidecar are working for donations, but the donation is built into the app and leaves little room for question on how much you should pay.
This examples draws from a ride from my place to a communal house in Twin Peaks where I like to attend events. The distance is 2.6 miles and it usually takes 12-18 minutes depending on traffic.
I've now taken sidecar late at night, during the afternoon, in lesser known and out of the way locations in the city. In the last 3 days, I've taken 6 rides.
Every time, the driver is there in 10 minutes - often sooner.
The driver already knows my name and where I am going.
I sit in the front seat and get to hear who they are and why they are giving people rides.
All the cars have been nice and clean. I've been picked up in everything from an older Camry to a BMW.
The drivers are people who are mostly between jobs or contracts. I even got a ride from an older gentlemen who is a retired UPS executive living in the East Bay. His intent was to learn the city better and to have something fun and social to do. And another driver is in between contracts doing urban planning and development for the city of San Francisco.
I often don't take taxis because the experience is so poor and the cost so high. I've recently been pondering what my life would look like without a car, exclusively using uber to get where ever I want, when I want to get there. So many possibilities would open and I'd likely save money when time is factored.
San Francisco is such a fantastic city with many neighborhoods and opportunities. I don't want location or transit to limit my experience.
I appreciate public transit systems and I've tried my darnedest to efficiently utilized the buses near my apartment and beyond. I have to say, the schedule is never accurate and I often end up stranded starring into the abyss of my phone before submitting to the fact that I'll either have to hoof it or wave down a taxi.
Since I'm deep into the sharing economy, writing "It's a Shareable Life" with Alex and Gabriel, I'm naturally inclined to try things like sidecar. However, I was just as skeptical just like you.
Who are the drivers? How does it work? Is it safe? Who are the people behind this? And is this even legal?
I'm extraordinarily impressed with how well it works from an economic and social standpoint.
There have been many times where I've wondered why a peer to peer taxi service doesn't exist. With so much technology, increased mobility and the rise of collaborative consumption, you'd think this would exist. Apparently, it took several young kids from Michigan to throw caution to the wind and try it.
Still in beta, but working beautifully... sidecar an awesome entry point into trying things where sharing is a part of the experience.
Sidecar relies on community members who have extra time to give rides to people who need a lift. This service not only solves a problem, but it also creates a shift in how we view taxis as a service. This is more personal, more social and also gives the driver a break by providing them with some extra, often times much needed income.
That's the power of the new sharing economy. It creates matches between market efficiency and the spaces in between peoples lives both on a social, human level and on an economic one.
4.) Open the app and sign up for an account. Your credit will automagically appear in your account.
5.) Next time you need a ride, enter your current location (address or venue name) and the drop off location.
Once you do that, the app will tell you how long it will be until the driver will reach your destination. You can see a map of where the driver is, just like you do in uber. When the driver is less than 5 minutes away, you'll get a text alerting you that the driver is close. When the driver arrives, they may call you if they can't immediately see you.
6.) Add the end of the ride, the app will tell you a suggested donation. I usually agree to the suggested donation and click pay.
And it's as simple as that!
What about safety?
The founders of sidecar are currently meeting with every single driver, interviewing them in person, doing a background check, making sure their insurance is adequate, their driving record is clean and that they don't have a criminal record.
Sidecar drivers go through this process:
1.) Application 2.) In person interview 3.) No points on driving record 4.) Clean background check 4.) Verification of car insurance 5.) A nice/safe enough car