AIRBNB way and MALTAway: The future of sharing: Your free time. The biggest asset is not a house. It’s not a car. It’s people’s time. It’s like a 21st-century job. Tom Friedman talks about how in the future people may not have jobs. They’ll have income streams.
I don’t think people would view the jobs created in the sharing economy as jobs. I don’t even know if they get counted as jobs when the White House has a new jobs report. They are jobs. As far as I can tell, people are working, they’re making income, and they depend on that income. Half of our hosts depend on it to pay the rent or mortgage. Maybe it’s a new kind of job. Maybe it’s like a 21st-century job. Tom Friedman talks about how in the future people may not have jobs. They’ll have income streams.
I believe that the sharing economy broadly can probably provide tens of millions of jobs or income streams for people all over the world. This is going to have a pretty big effect on the economy, mostly a good one.
The sharing economy started by democratizing and creating access to probably two of the biggest assets people have: their homes and then their cars. But I think the whole idea of ownership is changing. When my parents were young, owning things was a privilege, and there was a sense of romance to owning a house, owning a car.
Today’s generation sees that ownership also as a burden. People still want to show off, but in the future I think what they’re going to want to show off is their Instagram feed, their photos, the places they’ve gone, the experiences they’ve had. That has become the new bling. It’s not the car you have; it’s the places you go and the experiences you have. I think in the future, people will own whatever they want responsibility for. And I think what they’re going to want responsibility for the most is their reputation, their friendships, their relationships, and the experiences they’ve had.
Fundamentally, the idea of the sharing economy is going to be great for cities. It means that people all over a city, in 60 seconds, can become microentrepreneurs. And they can be empowered. And they can make an income. Now, this is amazing, but it’s also complicated because there are laws that were written many decades ago—sometimes a century ago—that said, “There are laws for people and there are laws for business.” What happens when a person becomes a business? Suddenly these laws feel a little bit outdated. They’re really 20th-century laws, and we’re in a 21st-century economy.
It’s probably going to be a fair amount of work to revise some of the laws and rethink the way cities and platforms work together, but I think that work is worth it. Because what cities don’t have to do is invest billions of dollars in infrastructure to create jobs. Whereas historically, to create opportunities, cities would need massive projects and investments, these jobs only require the Internet. Now what they need to do is navigate the legal framework, which is typically outdated. We want to work with the cities. We’re not telling them that their laws are terrible. The world continues to change. Laws must continue to adapt for that world.