Monday, December 15, 2014

Overview of available jobs in the collaborative economy

The american organization Peers has a good overview of the different types of jobs that you can seek in the collaborative economy - including an estimate of how much you are likely to make. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How Google Works... Like a platform

How Google Works gives a very interesting, and actually quite inspiring, look at the philosophy of management behind Google. It’s written by former CEO Eric Schmidt and another top Google executive Jonathan Rosenberg.
It’s an easy read and contrary to a lot of other management books it doesn’t have a lot of very LOUD and flashy models of how to handle everything. But it does convey an attitude of thinking very big, hiring the best possible people, trusting them and supporting them in pursuing their ideas.

A very interesting slogan is “Default to open”, and this attitude applies in many areas – like keeping employees informed, creating partnerships, or not trying to tie costumers to your service.
It’s a bet, but they take that bet by default: “With open, you trade control for scale and innovation”.

There are also a few good observations about platforms that are worth quoting:

Airbnb, Uber, Square, Kickstarter, Netflix, Spotify… “These companies assembled existing technology components in new ways to re-imagine existing business. They set up platforms for customers and partners to interact, and use those platforms to create highly differentiated products and services. This model can apply just about anywhere: Travel, automobiles, apparel, restaurants, food, retail …”

“Whereas the twentieth century was dominated by monolithic, closed networks, the twenty-first will be driven by global, open ones”.
(p. 83)

“A corporation’s relationship with consumers is one-way. GM decides how to design, manufacture and market a new product to its consumers, and sells it through a network of dealerships. In contrast, a platform has a back-and-forth relationship with consumers and suppliers. There’s a lot more give and take”.
(p. 245)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Ok Go - again! It's unbelievable...

The guys from Ok Go have made another unbelievably intricate, one-shot video. Wow.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

On not getting by in the sharing economy

A very good,and very long, article by Sarah Kessler in FastCompany examined the realities of doing tasks for TaskRabbit, Fiverr, Uber etc. She found that making a living in the “gig-economy” is not easy at all.
For 4 weeks she tried to make money by using all the sharing economy services she could – from walking dogs, tutoring kids, and delivering packages to wrapping gifts.
It’s an excellent piece of journalism.

Along the way she experienced a lot of weird and worrying situation and she got a first hand view of what life is like when you surviving from one small gig to another.
Anyone interested in the collaborative economy should be aware that there is a very harsh competetive economy alongside the warm and friendly sharing of resources among people who have something to spare.

“Because of the way TaskRabbit works, job posters can easily find the people willing to work for the least amount of money. A user with the screen-name BaubleBar (the name of an online jewelry vendor that has raised $6 million to date) creates a task for $40. "We need 10 TaskRabbits to help us pack and check the quality of merchandise, and add labels to merchandise tags," it says. "PLEASE NOTE: We cannot allow frequent cell phone use during this task, so if you need to be on your phone often, this is not the task for you. This job will take approximately 8 hours. From 8am to 4pm."

“Setting up a full day of gigs--or even a gig in a target free period--isn't easy, and it often takes as much effort as applying for a regular economy job. I get rejected from about five tasks for every one I win. Sometimes I hold spots in my calendar that I could fill with other tasks for jobs I've bid on but haven't heard from. I'm essentially competing for every hour of my employment.
Even if I land a gig with a decent hourly wage, it typically looks like nothing once I factor in the time spent looking for jobs and commuting between them. Despite the oft-repeated promise of the gig economy, in fact I have no control over when I work, because the only way to get gigs is to be available sporadically and often without much notice. For example, the only people who respond to my DogVacay profile want a dog sitter over Christmas, when I am also out of town”.

“I have come to realize that one of the cruel ironies of the gig economy is that even though it's geared almost exclusively to serve urban markets, the kind of densely packed cities where space is at a premium, one needs a car to have a shot at the cream of the work that's available. Even worse, the universe of gig economy startups is mostly relying on young people and others who are underemployed--exactly the people whom are least likely to be able to afford a car in a city. Or have an extra bedroom. Or a parking space. Or designer clothes. Or handyman skills”.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Indlæg om mobile banking og nøjsomme løsninger i DR2 Dagen

DR2 Dagen havde igår en sektion om brugen af mobile banking, og jeg var en tur inde og fortælle om brugen af mobiler i U-lande, og om forskellen på almindelig vestlig innovation og nøjsomme løsninger ala MPESA.
Indslaget starter 38:35 minutter inde i udsendelsen med et interview med direktøren for centralbanken i BanglaDesh, så kommer jeg på ved 45:20.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Datsun is too cheap for India

It seems that Nissan's attempt to create a low cost car for emerging markets under the Datsun brand name is not succeeding. According to Business week, Nissan is making the same mistake that Tata motors did with the Nano; marketing a car as cheap, without realizing that most aspiring people don't want to be seen as driving cheap. 
The point seems to be that affordability is not enough, the product needs to be attractive, too. 

Business week reports
"In India, where the Datsun Go went on sale on March 19, deliveries through August totaled 9,557, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. By comparison, Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL:IN), the country’s top-selling carmaker, sells just as many of its similarly priced Alto hatchbacks every couple of weeks. Only 607 Datsuns were sold in July, falling 77 percent from their peak in April and dipping below sales of Tata’s Nano, though they rebounded and exceeded Nano sales in August, according to SIAM data."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Crowdfunded public transport - line six in Toronto

Here's an interesting version of crowd funding: A group of Toronto citizens crowdfunding a bus line, which the public transportation company is unwilling to establish. 
In the collaborative economy it seems that political activism and business entrepreneurship are blurring. 

Here's more from the Canadian Broadcast company's article about the initiative: 
"In a move to alleviate the cattle-car conditions transit riders in the west-end neighbourhood endure almost daily, Scollon has co-founded a service that will attempt to operate — at least on a trial basis — a private, crowd-funded bus service with daily trips into downtown during rush hour from the fast-growing neighbourhood along King Street West.
Here's how it will work. For a minimum donation of $25, riders are guaranteed five seats on the bus. Scollon's company will charter the bus using a private company. Line 6 has a $2,500 funding goal before they will launch the pilot. So far, they have raised $1,450"

Friday, October 10, 2014

The incredibly shrinking time horizon of stock market investments

Just stumbled upon this very illustrative graph from LPL Financial research showing how the average holding period of stock has fallen from years to days. Long term thinking is over, it seems. 

Here's part of their analysis: 
"The time horizon of the average investor’s investment perspective has changed dramatically over the years, as you can see in Figure 1. According to data from the New York Stock Exchange, the average holding period for stocks in 1960 was about eight years. By 1970, it had slid to a little over five years. By 1980, it had fallen to just under three years, by 1990 to two years, by 2000 to just one year, and in 2010 it reached a mere six months. In 2012, the ETF that tracks the S&P 500 turns over its full market capitalization in trading volume about once every five days".

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

How to thrive in the we-economy

Thriving in a we-economy

The products that drove the industrial economy are becoming commodities: They have matured to the point where it’s hard and expensive to squeeze additional value from them. Instead, new value and growth now comes from connecting and combining technologies to create broader solutions, starting from the customer’s perspective.

Industrial products were mass-produced, one-size-fits-all. Now, value is increasingly created for specific customers in a specific context, here and now.
Rather than thinking in terms of standalone products, customers will buy devices and services that fit together with all the other stuff they are using – and the value they derive emerges from the interaction between large numbers of companies, often from very different sectors. Just consider how many providers are involved and coordinated to enable the services that are available on a smartphone.  

In the global market place, pressure to deliver more for less is as high as ever, and as we go forward, the demand for efficiency will only increase because of growing concerns about the environment and the tightening supplies of natural resources and energy.

Computers and connectivity are making it cheaper to coordinate and orchestrate transactions widely, with great precision and efficiency.
In all industries, products are digitized, networked, and equipped with sensors. They are exchanging data and coordinating, to compose solutions that are adapted to individual and local demands – but drawing on global networks and a wide variety of resources – including input from users themselves.

A new approach to meet new conditions

To thrive under these new conditions, companies need a new approach to business and value creation.
The main characteristic is a shift from a ME perspective towards a WE perspective.
This means seeing yourself as part of a much wider set of stakeholders, and understanding that your success depends on the success of all others involved in creating a common solution.
Taking a we-perspective means realizing that you cannot create complex solutions alone, and that opening to co-creation with other stakeholders, including users, will give you access to greater insight at a lower cost.
Thus, the we-approach is one of interaction, collaboration and interdependence.

This in turns implies that businesses need to rethink the way they organize value creation.         

- Focus shifts towards processes and applications, rather than providing finished products. Design is largely about creating and contributing to tools, services, platforms and systems that make it easy for a wide range of participants to join and contribute to creating the results they each want.
- It’s a participatory economy, based on a much deeper interaction action between producers and consumers. The traditional, industrial-era division of roles and responsibilities between suppliers, manufacturers, users, and customers are blurred. 
- Openness and sharing is a prerequisite for developing and operating a We- economy business concept. However, when knowledge and resources are shared, the ownership, rights and profits from activities are not so straightforward.
- The motivation to contribute knowledge, effort and other resources is not purely economic. Participants may equally be driven by the desire for recognition, by professional interest, social interaction or a wish to help others. Concerns about sustainability, minimizing the waste of resources and the environment in general are also important as motivation.
- Leadership and decision-making happens across organizational boundaries in networks, that can include not only the individual company's own employees, but also workers from other enterprises, volunteers, public servants, users, suppliers and customers.
- With less central authority or ownership, control of the process is replaced by influence.
- The connection between efforts and pay-off is less direct, and investments must be seen in a wider and longer-term perspective when you are contributing to make the ecosystem, which you are ultimately dependent on, thrive.
- A different set of skills is required. The traditional, rather passive and reproducing role of workers and consumers in the industrial age, need to change towards more personal initiative, assuming responsibility, sharing, communicating and creating. 

Elements of a new normal.

Interestingly, these characteristics are very visible in a number of new and often overlapping approaches to business, which have had considerable success and attention recently.

The sharing economy matches idle resources with needs. Access to use is more important the individual ownership Instead.
The maker movement is democratizing innovation and making it possible for virtually anyone to develop, manufacture and sell products.
Co-creation and broader participation in the development and production of solutions is possible in digital networks
The circular economy sees business as an ecosystem where everything and everyone are ultimately interrelated and interdependent.
Social enterprises work to make services and goods accessible to as many people as possible – rather than maximizing profits.

A lot of experimentation is going on, and not all companies and business models will have staying power. However, looking at the big picture, it’s hard to imagine that elements of these approaches will not become part of the new normal way of doing business.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Changing roles in the We-economy

The main characteristic of the We-economy is that value creation takes place in an ongoing interaction with a much broader set of stakeholders than what companies and organizations usually consider.

It’s a different way of collaborating and organizing value creation, and it requires all involved to reconsider their roles in the process.

Consumers are usually thought of as passive and free of responsibility. As a consumer, you can choose from the menu, pay what’s required, use what you bought and discard it afterwards.
In the We-economy, the people formerly known as consumers become co-creators.  Co-creators can actively participate in defining the product, configuring it, and contributing ideas, data and labor to the process.
A co-creator operates with a different mindset than a consumer. Consumers are the classic homo economicus. Consumers think short-term and personal. They want the best deal for themselves, and they don’t care about the consequences of their choices for others.

In contrast, co-creators see they will get better value by engaging with others, and they understand that thriving in the long-term requires that others will also thrive. They realize that their choices have positive and negative consequences in a far-reaching system, and that they have responsibilities beyond simply paying for the right to ”consume”.

Manufacturers usually create finished products that are sold to consumers in transactions, which rarely extend beyond the sale and a bit of follow-up for repair and warranty issues.
In the We-economy, the finished physical product is less important relative to the process, which allows users to make the most of the product. An increasing part of overall value is created through interactions on a platform, that allows many stakeholders – including other companies and end-users – to contribute to a solution, which fits the user’s needs and demands in the specific, current context.
This requires that manufacturers open up to input from other companies and users, and this in turns means that they lose some of their control of the finished product.

Public services are usually provided to taxpayers, who are seen as clients that are entitled to a service. In the We-economy, public institutions see themselves as enablers, that create systems and platforms, which allow citizens, civil servants and private companies to co-create common goods such as health, security, mobility or education.
Citizens are given opportunities and responsibilities to improve the value of the services by co-creating.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Waves innovation exhibition opens in Paris - 5 currents of the new economy

The Waves innovation exhibition has opened in La Villette in Paris. It presents 5 currents, which are changing the economy and opening up new types of value creation: Sharing, co-creation, the maker movement, Social enterprise and the circular economy – in my opinion, a set of approaches, which are hard NOT to see as parts of the normal future economy. It's exactly the topic of the We-economy project here in Denmark.
The main content are 20 case-stories from around the world, illustrated with wonderful photographic artwork. The exhibition is housed in an elegant and organic purpose-built 500 square meter pavilion.

For me it has been a great pleasure to work with the team at BNP, to contribute ideas, research and texts – and the result is fabulous, IMHO!
The exhibition will stay in Paris till October 5, and will then travel on around the world, and in France. There is a comprehensive website for the exhibition as well. 

Monday, September 08, 2014

Airbnb co-founder discusses the nuts and bolts of the company on Econ-talk

Nathan Blecharczyk, the CTO and co-founder of Airbnb is interviewed by Russ Roberts of Econtalk. It’s a great interview with lots of insight into the nuts and bolts of Airbnb.
Also, there are some amazing recent facts: There are now 800.000 properties on the platform, and recently 375.000 rooms were rented out in one night. It’s big.

I’ve picked a sequence, where Blecharczyk talks about the turning point of the company, when the founders, at the suggestion from their Y-combinator mentor Paul Graham, went to New York and visited the people who were using Airbnb to rent their flats:

“So, we went to New York, and before we showed up, we called every single user, every single host.
Russ: How many were there?
Guest: About 30.
Russ: Okay. That's 30.
Guest: It was not a monumental task by any means. And we said, How would you like a professional photographer to come by your home and take some pictures? And I think that question was a little bit out of the blue, but people were curious and they said, It's free? Yes. And they said, Okay, sure, why not. And, you have to remember, at this time camera phones weren't that great. They were lower resolution, poorly lit. So we noticed the photos could be better. So we offered to take them, have a professional take them, for free. What ended up happening was that Joe and Brian would go to the camera store, rent the camera for the weekend, and show up themselves, knocking on the door. So the host would open the door expecting the professional photographer, and it was Joe and Brian, the founders of the company. But they let them in anyways, and Joe and Brian took the photos. And while they are in there, sat with them at the computer, showed them how to use the website, got product feedback, as well as invited them to share beers later on. And so we'd get together anywhere from 5-8 people in the evening, have a beer, tell them our story over the last year. And once people had heard the story and gotten to meet us, they became our advantage list. They wanted us to succeed at that point. So much so that even once we came back to San Francisco, we could call them up and give them advice, such as: you really have a beautiful apartment but you've only written a paragraph describing it; could we add a few more paragraphs? Could we perhaps start with your price being lower, and then raise it if you are getting too many inquiries? And so once we had great pictures, lower prices, more complete profiles, and cooperative hosts, that was the special combination. It was then that those properties started getting booked by travelers coming from all around the world. The travelers had great experiences and then would go home to their home cities--Paris, Berlin, Hong Kong--and the guests would oftentimes say, Hey, I want to do this, too. And the guests would become hosts. And so, within months there was a global cross-pollination of the idea in a way that might not be true of other businesses”.

Another quote:
So events are a great catalyst for Airbnb. And just recently during the World Cup down in Brazil, we hosted about 150,000 guests in Brazil. It was actually about 20% of all international visitors, stayed on an Airbnb property. We now have 20,000 properties in the city of Rio. So, Airbnb is a great solution when there's an event that brings an influx of people and there's a lack of the existing hotel capacity to kind of flux and accompany all that”.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Mobilizing small un-used resource - like your car's trunk

It's amazing how the sharing economy can mobilize the smallest idle capacity. Check Cardrop, which offers to deliver package to your car's trunk. So you don't have to worry about staying home to receive that package. 

Monday, September 01, 2014

Man meets woman - in pictograms

Yang Liu, who created the classic comparison of Asian and Western culture in "East meets West", has a new book out on Taschen.
It's about the differences between men and women. Looks like another great collection of deep and very funny insights shown in an extremely simple way. Yang Liu has developed a distinct and effective genre of her own.

Using open data - where's the nearest public toilet?

Clever use of open data, made available by the municipality of Copenhagen and Århus: An app to locate the nearest public toilet. 

What will you do for $5 - the Fiverr website

At you can get stuff done for five dollars - Voice overs, drawings, videos, search engine optimization...
It seems to be a hard way of making any kind of decent income. Scary, somehow.

$0.007 for a song on Spotify

Interesting to see the figures. Spotify has a section on their website, where they explain the details of their payments. 

Sharing city Seoul - a good overview

An article from the Shareable website gives a good overview of the many initiatives in the ambitious strategy to make Seoul a sharing city. Amazing how much is going on!

Here's a quote: 

"Taken together, it's obvious there's a pressing need to reinvent the city. Seoul is certainly not the only city with these issues. It is, however, fertile ground for the sharing economy to take root. Seoul has built world-class IT and civic infrastructure; it has the highest fiber optic broadband penetration and fastest Internet in the world; it offers free WiFi service in all outdoor spaces; and has the highest smartphone penetration rate in the world at over 67 percent. It also has one of the best subway systems, also wired for high speed Internet.
Using this infrastructure, in addition to strong public-private partnerships, the Sharing City project is working to connect people to sharing services and each other, recover a sense of trust and community, reduce waste and over-consumption, and activate the local economy".

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The basics of the business of platforms

Great interview with Sangeet Paul Chaudhary at Applico. Chaudhary writes a very instructive blog specifically on platforms - it's called Platformed. 
In this interview, he gets to lay out the basics of what platforms are, how they work, and why they are such a strong business model. 

Here's a quote:
"These are the three key shifts that have led to the rise of platforms and the three specific ways that platforms differ from traditional business models:

They are networks, not linear
They allow participation, not just consumption

They rely on data to enable value creation"

Can sharing expand the economy?

Interesting observation in an interview with Arjun Sundararajan

"...when a technological change comes along that makes “production” more efficient, it eventually grows the economy because it creates new opportunities.
The mortgage example is exactly that. It’s more likely that I’ll be able to afford a larger space if I can explicitly factor in the revenue stream that I’ll get from renting it out during the ten days that I’m traveling.  And that is expansive for the economy, not recessionary, because I’m probably going to get more space. People are going to use that space when I’m not there, and that generates commercial activity as well".

Flying under the regulatory radar

Another article – this one in the Boston Globe - examining the uncertain status of people making their living in the sharing economy.
As a driver for Uber or a “tasker” working for TaskRabbit, are you an employee or an independent contractor? The difference is sick leave, health insurance, contribution to your pension..

Here’s a quote:

“If all these start-ups had to hire employees in every city they operate in, their costs would jump — perhaps to the point where they’re not economically viable. And yet if the innovation economy produces companies that have hundreds of thousands of “non-employees” who love the lifestyle, but don’t have unemployment insurance or retirement plans, we’re going to have problems as a state and society”.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Show what you want to share

A super-simple solution for showing your neighbors what you are willing to share: Put a sticker on your mail box that shows it.
The stickers are available from Swiss pumpipumpe.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Who will be the Amazon of sharing?

Why? My guess is that it’s not because investors believe that there’s such an enormous market in private rooms and fancy rides.
Rather, It’s about creating a platform that could become a corner stone in the future economic global landscape. Each of the two has a chance of becoming the Amazon of sharing.
It’s easy to imagine the next steps extending the business model to new areas. Airbnb could start bundling rooms with other services: Cleaning, local transportation, local guides, boats and sports equipment, local meals, and transportation from home and back… They could basically try to cover all aspects of travel by using idle resources and sharing. Indeed, they are already making such extensions.
Likewise, Uber could extend in other directions: luxury services or various other modes of transportation – including air travel.

Whatever the details, this general direction seems obvious. Once you have created a platform for brokering resources, when you have the user interface in place, the apps, the payment structure, the trust mechanisms and a strong brand with lots of traffic, it’s cheap to include other areas of use.
Generally, such platforms have low marginal costs and strong network effects. Everybody wants to be on the platform where everybody else is.
So it’s a game for giants.

One thing I don’t understand, though: Why is EBay just letting this happen?