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?