For me the Collaborative Peer and Sharing Economy Summit (CPSE) convened at NYU Stern May 30, 2014 saved the best for last with a closing statement from renowned venture capitalist Fred Wilson that turned our attention to the enabling technologies. Wilson told us all you need to know is that “the block chain” will transform business and organizations. More on this below.
Hosted by NYU Stern Berkley Center and the Partnership for New York City#ShareNYC assembled diverse stakeholders–entrepreneurs, government leaders, academics, business executives, venture capitalists–for deep dives into sharing economy practicalities and disruptive realities, to understand the state of development and prospects. See the full list of participants and program topics here.
Here are my top CPSE Summit takeaways:
1. Collaborative Peer-to-Peer and Sharing Economy Interest and Initiatives are Rapidly Growing
The level of interest and evolution is seen not just in enthusiasm among concerned #ShareNYC attendees and news highlights about the regulatory battles of Airbnb and Uber. The Share conference hosted by the Peers organization May 13-14 in San Francisco attracted more than 600 people from 20 countries according to this report. In response to my question about where the sharing economy is headed CPSE Summit Chair, New York University Professor Arun Sundararajan, sees a single digit percentage contribution to U.S. gross domestic product in the next 5 years.
2. The Search for Movement Definition is Work in Progress
As indicated by the NYU Stern summit title–“Collaborative- Peer- Sharing- Economy”– the language and definition around the new economic models exemplified by Airbnb and Uber is work in progress. Nancy Scola’s blog post reporting Denis Cheng‘s appeal to stop using the “sharing economy” term at the recent Share conference explains the challenges.
For some clarity around implications of the emerging Collaborative Economy for business see Jeremy Owyang’s Collaborative Economy Honeycomb and thoughtprovoking Future of Business Models presentation.
From her research project Harvard graduate student Sarah Cannon proposes these First Principles for the Peer Economy:
3. Paying Attention to the Technology Advances Enabling the Collaborative Economy
If you’re not yet familiar with “block chain’ technology take a high speed class for it’s the technical infrastructure underlying Bitcoin that according to the New Scientist “will change the world” through Decentralised Autonomous Corporations. To learn more see computer scientist and software developer Martin Harrigan’s “A Network Analyst’s View of the Block Chain” that analyzes Bitcoin’s decentralized consensus-driven ledger of transactions.
Suffice to say I found the promise Fred Wilson sees for transactions to take place through “block chain” technology without central exchanges, and the emergence of systems that are self regulatory, “attention getting”. Not surprisingly Wilson ended by observing block chain technology, and new operating models based on it, will challenge the role of government, capitalism and business. CPSE Summit panel discussions indicated those challenges are already under way.
4. Human Values and Power Frozen in Regulations Will Determine Adoption Rate
A recurring and essential thread in the ShareNYC dialogues came front and center in my final lunch conversation with the remarkable Jen Lemen, founding partner of zipline.co and HopefulWorld.org. Recounting a trip to Africa to reunite two children with their mother in the United States– a trip funded by donations from her blog readers– Jen Lemen described seeing the human values driving Sharing Economy initiatives in the developed world at work in African villages to ensure survival.
I have no doubt that while rapid technology development will grow peer-to-peer sharing and collaboration solutions, it will be human values and actions that will determine the degree and quality of their social and economic impact. As Professor Sundararajan noted in his CPSE Summit opening remarks “we have 21st century ideas being reviewed by 20th century managers built on a 19th century education system.”
7 years on CPSE provided evidence that the change Yochai Benkler forecast in his book “The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom” 2006 is gathering momentum.
For more CPSE Summit highlights see excellent blog posts by Nancy Scola Finish This Sentence: Napster Is to iTunes as Airbnb Is to What? and Sam RoudmanVisions of the Sharing Economy Present and Future from NYU Conference.