Tom Goodwin’s precise summing up of the shifting business environment is now legend – Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.
Institutional realignment is now on an accelerated path. In this superb, nuanced post titled ‘Uber and AirBnB make the rules now – but to whose benefit?“, Vili Lehdonvirta brings up very interesting perspectives. (To paraphrase)
– If buyers switch to a new market, sometimes sellers have no choice but to follow, irrespective of whether it brings them gains or losses (eg. if there is very little business outside of Uber to be had)
– Even if everyone participates with interests intact, the collective effects on society may not always be positive (eg. AirBnB rooms causing nuisance to neighbours)
– These conflicting interests are usually reconciled by political institutions, but they face the challenge of siding with incumbents or upstarts.
And towards the end of the article, this very important thought – these new platforms appear to provide access to those who have been denied it by the institutions and processes thus far, but is it that simple? In this context, the new jobs being created are quite different from the typical ‘job’ description. That brings me to a key institution – the traditional workplace.