What is the sharing economy?

An introduction to the difference between Couchsurfing, Uber, Airbnb, DoorDash, and Etsy

The sharing economy: We all have an understanding of it, but describing it is still a challenge.

We’ve also heard it called many things: “sharing economy”, “collaborative consumption”, “peer economy”, “on-demand”, and even “peer-to-peer marketplaces”.

All the companies placed in these categories have similar attributes: they wed supply and demand. Too often, however, we use the phrases interchangeably when there are actually key differences that should be considered in order to understand how these new categories shape our economy.

The phrase “sharing economy”, most similar to “collaborative consumption” and “peer economy”, suggests an economy based on resources, and not on any abstract system of money. For example, one of the most pure representations of the sharing economy would have to be Couchsurfing, which was founded over a decade ago.

As a host on Couchsurfing, you offer a spare bedroom in your home (or even just a couch) to “surfers”, usually foreigners travelling through the area who need a place to crash. In this case, there’s no exchange of money whatsoever, reflecting a true sharing model.

Yet Uber and Airbnb, not Couchsurfing, are considered the biggest “sharing economy” companies out there, most likely because Airbnb and Uber are valued at $25.5 billion and $62.5 billion, respectively. So where’s the sharing? Someone is either hiring an Uber or renting an Airbnb unit. The only “sharing” piece of the resources used is that the cars and the spaces are owned by individuals and are often underused assets, such as a car, space, and in some cases, a person’s time.

But there’s still money being exchanged. Uber and Airbnb would better be described as “peer economy” companies, because “peer-to-peer” is a decentralized system versus a more traditional capitalist system, where a business owner owns the production and hires the labor. In either case, however, money changes hands.

Further discrepancies arise when you take a closer look at these two peer economy companies. Most obviously, Uber is an “on-demand” service powered by “peer-to-peer labor”, whereas Airbnb is more of a marketplace. One can get a room on-demand, but that’s not a core part of the platform. And there’s no labor component at all.

This differs from Uber, when every Uber call is immediate. It’s an action that demands immediate action.

So what are the other on-demand startups out there that also aggregate labor? Dozens of food delivery companies (e.g. DoorDash and Instacart), household errands and services (e.g. Handy, TaskRabbit), and many others (e.g. Postmates, YourMechanic, Staffly)—these are less “sharing” economy companies, and more “excess labor” companies. In the case of these companies, there are no assets being shared, but services are being provided by a person.

Companies like Breather, WeWork, and Rover, on the other hand, are more like Airbnb, in that they’re marketplaces, with an on-demand component, but not an excess “labor” component.

Finally, there are the peer-to-peer models that are pure marketplaces, including Etsy, Shapeways, Vinted, and Wallapop. For example,  Vinted has no “on-demand” component, but it is a flavor of the peer-to-peer model since individuals are buying, selling, and swapping each other’s clothes. It’s basically Amazon for secondhand clothing.

But across all these companies, consumers are still paying, which is why the Harvard Business Review argues we should be calling Airbnb and all its peers (Uber, Lyft, WeWork, Instacart, Handy, etc.) part of an “access economy”, not a sharing economy:

Sharing is a form of social exchange that takes place among people known to each other, without any profit. Sharing is an established practice, and dominates particular aspects of our life, such as within the family. By sharing and collectively consuming the household space of the home, family members establish a communal identity. When “sharing” is market-mediated — when a company is an intermediary between consumers who don’t know each other — it is no longer sharing at all. Rather, consumers are paying to access someone else’s goods or services for a particular period of time. It is an economic exchange, and consumers are after utilitarian, rather than social, value.

While HBR makes a solid point, however, it doesn’t look like their article (published a little over a year ago) will make any inroads in changing how we speak about this new generation of companies. As a phrase and category, the “sharing economy” is here to stay, and it will continue to be used to describe services as wildly different as Couchsurfing (a website where people host strangers in their home for free), Uber and Lyft (apps where you press a button to hail a ride from a company contractor), and Vinted (an online marketplace where people buy, sell, and swap clothing).

My next pieces will expand on the sharing economy divisions introduced above, and will reveal how even “peer-to-peer” and “on-demand” are broad umbrella categories that don’t always mean the same thing in every case.

The shifting web behaviors across Desktop and Mobile



The psychology of web design – How to make websites & influence people



IT and the Internet: the last 30 years



Le 5 tecnologie per migliorare la customer experience nel 2016 [Gartner]

Quali tecnologie avranno un impatto sul tuo business a partire dal 2016?

Guardare al futuro per rintracciare i trend tecnologici che definiranno i confini del business nei prossimi anni. Tecnologie molto diverse tra loro, ma con un tratto comune: l’impatto sui programmi a lungo termine delle aziende, sulle customer experience e sulle strategie di marketing.

Di tutte le evoluzioni previste da Gartner, in questo articolo abbiamo selezionato i 5 trend che faranno sentire maggiormente il loro peso sulla customer experience partire dal 2016.


La diffusione dei dispositivi mobile ha creato una rete intorno agli esseri umani e alle aziende, moltiplicando i punti di contatto e di accesso alle informazioni. La tua strategia dovrà tenere conto di questa rete, e comunicare attraverso essa.


La tecnologia digitale abbatte le barriere tra mondo fisico e virtuale. Compito di un brand è realizzare un’esperienza che sia davvero univoca, in grado di fluire attraverso i diversi canali senza interruzioni.


Dal 2016 la stampa 3D potrà trovare nuova linfa vitale grazie allo sviluppo di materiali diversi e più economici da utilizzare. Questo renderà la tecnologia molto più pervasiva e gli sviluppi più interessanti a livello di business.


Il futuro del business è nell’adozione di tecnologie intelligenti e interconnesse, in grado di imparare e – in un’ottica di vendita – predire il comportamento dei clienti.


Gli oggetti intelligenti rendono superfluo l’intervento umano. La IoT rappresenta la frontiera finale nel connettere l’intera esistenza del cliente al mondo digitale, il passo ultimo in quel percorso iniziato con i dispositivi mobile.

Saper leggere e adattare alla propria realtà questi trend evolutivi rappresenta – e in futuro ancora di più – l’elemento decisivo per trasformare una strategia tradizionale in una strategia vincente e tarata su misura per un mondo digitale e iper-connesso.

(articolo di D.Melpignano – dcx | Digital Experience)

How to start a Startup

Here is a literal and actionable guide on how to start up.


Based on a much longer eponymous essay by Paul Graham, I reinterpreted it so it makes sense when you don’t know where to start:

  • Live in the future. Most of us live in the past or the present. It is easier to analyze what already succeeded and think of ways to replicate the success. It’s thinking by analogy. It is a valid way to think, except that this isn’t the way to create a big startup. Big startups are based on ideas of two kinds – obvious and hard, like Elon Musk’s SpaceX; and non-obvious and hard, like Uber. If you don’t see the obvious and hard or the non-obvious, there is a name for it – “Schlep Blindness”. SpaceX is an obvious idea because the only other enterprise that could send people to Mars, NASA, had no plan to do so at the time SpaceX started. So it is obvious. Because it is obvious and no one else is doing it – a reasonable assumption is that it is impossible. Yet if you live in the future, it will also be obvious to you that humanity will either go to Mars (or another planet) or go extinct at some point. More likely we will find a way to leave this blue pebble. So the impossible must be possible. With UberPool, the idea that at any given point in time there are at least two people going from about the same location to about the same destination is non-obvious. It requires at least three assumptions. It is hard because you would have to gather and store mountains of data about where people actually go in a city. That kind of data analysis is only becoming available now. But Uber thought of it when they offered their first ride back in 2009. They were living in the future.
  • See what is missing in the world. You probably noticed that before Uber, taxi rides weren’t enjoyable. You probably noticed that before SpaceX people were less interested in space. But that is already the past. What is missing now? More importantly what is missing from your life now?
  • Write it down. No matter how smart you are, you will not remember all your insights. Your conversations with others, random observation, and shower thoughts that are worth following up on. Write these done or lose them. Daydreaming has value. Einstein had another name for it – thought experiment.
  • Make a prototype. Most of your thoughts, even the best ones, will never see the light of day sadly. You will forget them into oblivion even if you write them down. The only exceptions are those thoughts you prototype. Makethem physical if they can be – program them, design them, do anything that makes them more than just thoughts. Most people will stop right here. So if you do this, you are already ahead of the imaginary curve.
  • Show the prototype to 100 people. Now you will need to step out of your comfort zone and seek out people who will critique your prototype. Ideally, these are both people you already know and complete strangers. Why 100? Because you need a breadth of perspective and hopefully a pattern to recognize from all the feedback.
  • Iterate. Although a few people will get it right on the first try, the odds are you will not. So prepare to redo everything from scratch. This is your “founder MBA”, except it is free.
  • Find a co-founder. When the prototype starts making sense, go find another person who will pour a decade of their life into this project because it will change the world and they probably don’t have a more meaningful thing to do in life at the moment.
  • Register your business. Split equity. Finally, an easy step. Get a lawyer who will register your company. Give your co-founder as much equity as will make them work their hardest, while you keep as much as will make you give it your all.
  • Look for funding and build version one. Unless you have enough savings to build version one, go find an investor. While you are doing that build version one. You have to keep building because there is no guarantee about when or whether you find an investor. Don’t assume that you will just because other startups are getting funded. Assume the worst, and build your product.
  • Launch. By the time there is even an iota of usefulness in your product, launch it. Extra features, better interface, faster load time and other optimizations probably won’t save it, if the core features have no use.
  • Follow up with users. Are users coming back? Find out why they are not.
  • Launch again. Launch as many times as it takes. At some point, if at least a few dozen people are coming back on their own, you probably made something valuable.
  • Get to 1,000 users. This may not seem like a lot, but the first 1,000 users will show the weaknesses of what you have built. You probably will have to recruit them manually. How manually? Take their computer and open your website for them. Whatever it takes.
  • Grow. Paul Graham encourages startups to grow at least 5% a week. If you grow that much, within 4 years you will get to 25 million users. In other words, you will be one of the largest startups.
  • Success – whatever that is. You can IPO, sell your company to another or stay private by convincing investors that there is a bigger liquidity event coming. Even now, though, you may or may not have made the world better. WebVan IPO’ed, but quickly disappeared. Think about what kind of a dent in the universe you want to leave with your startup.

(article by A.Vital – Inspired by Paul Graham’s essay “How to Start a Startup”)

Real-time payment systems launched across the world

When a person receives a check and has to wait for two-four days for its clearance, that’s not a good scenario. Many say that they have gotten used to it, but the younger generation is living a fast-paced life; millennials are challenging the status quo. There is a rising need for immediacy in payments whether it is banks, businesses, or even peer-to-peer. Solutions are available in some parts of the world for immediate transfer of funds. We have been tracking real-time payment systems launched across the world on an ongoing basis and have had discussions with people who built them. I thought of sharing it in the form of a timeline infographic to understand the trends.

People and businesses worldwide want payment systems that can achieve the desired speed of transactions, minimize the cost of transactions, reduce risks of fraud and bring satisfaction of service across different channels. That’s where real-time payments come into the picture. It has already been implemented in some countries and the US is not on the list.

Below is an infographic showing a timeline of countries adopting real-time payments:


1973: Zengin (operates 08:30-16:40)

Japan was the first country in the world to implement real-time payments.

1987: SIC

Switzerland was the first country in the Europe to implement real-time payments.

1992: TIC-RTGS (operates 08:30-17:30)

Turkey was the second country in Europe to implement real-time payments.

1995: CIFS

Taiwan was the second the country in Asia to implement real-time payments.

2000: Greiðsluveitan (operates 09:00-16:30)

Iceland was the third country in Europe to implement real-time payments.


South Korea was the third country in Asia to implement real-time payments.

2002: SITRAF (operates 07:30-17:00)

Brazil was the first country in South America and among the BRIC nations to implement real-time payments.

2004: SPEI

Mexico was the first country from North America to implement real-time payments.

2006: RTC

South Africa was the first African country to implement real-time payments.

2008: TEF

Chile was the second country in South America to implement real-time payments.

Faster Payments

The UK was the fourth country in Europe to implement real-time payments.

2010: IBPS

In 2010, China introduced real-time payments.


In 2010, India introduced real-time payments.

2011: NIP (operates 08:00-17:00)

In 2011, Nigeria introduced real-time payments.

2012: Elixir Express

Poland implemented real-time payments in 2012.


Sweden implemented real-time payments in 2012.

2014: Nets

Denmark implemented real-time payments in 2014.


In March 2014, Singapore introduced real-time payments.

Countries like Singapore and the UK have this service free of charge. Even countries like Nigeria and India are offering such real-time payment services.

In the US, we don’t have something which people enjoy in many countries across the world and that is an opportunity to build free real-time payments for any amount.

NACHA, the electronic payments association, has recently proposed a solution to provide a new, efficient and ubiquitous capability to expedite the processing of ACH transactions. With the new rule, the same-day processing of virtually any ACH payment can be enabled. But it will take some time for the rule to become fully effective. Same Day ACH would become effective over three phases during September 2016 as follows:

  • In Phase 1, ACH credit transactions will be eligible for same-day processing, supporting use cases such as hourly payroll, person-to-person (P2P) payments and same-day bill pay.
  • In Phase 2, Same-day ACH debits will be added, allowing for a wide variety of consumer bill payment use cases like utility, mortgage, loan and credit card payments.
  • Phase 3 introduces faster ACH credit fund availability requirements for RDFIs (receiving depository financial institution); funds from Same-day ACH credit transactions will need to be available to customers by 5:00 PM RDFI local time.

Phase 1 is scheduled to begin September 23, 2016.

In Australia, the service is in its implementation phase.

(article by Amit/LTP)

Why everyone should learn a little bit of photography


A criticism you’ll often hear today is that people spend too much time taking photos of their experiences rather than living them. But on the flip side, those photographs serve an important function: by taking photographs, we’re able to hold on to our memories, show the rest of the world a glimpse of our lives, and ultimately tell a story.

Everyone should learn a little bit of photography because everyone can benefit from it. Not only is it a fun hobby, but it can even make you grow as a person. Here are five reasons why learning a bit of photography can go a long way no matter who you are.

To Preserve Memories

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” – Aaron Siskind

Holding on to precious memories might be the oldest reason in the book to take photos, and it isn’t any less significant today than it was a hundred years ago.

If it’s a special day you want to commit to memory – like a wedding, a birthday, or a reunion – then taking a beautiful photo allows you revisit that momentous occasion with crystal clear accuracy. Barring unfortunate circumstances, a photograph will be there even when your memory falters.

Even if it’s just another day out with your family or friends, taking a photo allows you to preserve a split second moment that you’ll be able to look back on fondly.

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” – Marc Riboud

If you want to take it one step further, you could even commit to taking one photo a day for a year. Trying your hand at a “photo a day” project gives you the unique ability to look back over your year and remember at least one significant moment out of each day in that year.

If you’re struggling for inspiration, you can find inspiration and ideas all around you. All you have to do is look.

To Cultivate Creativity

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” – Ansel Adams

No matter what your preferred style of photography is, there’s an art to taking photos. Determining your subject, composing your shot, and deciding how to process the image is all part of one large creative process.

Despite the fact that it looks easy, photography is as much a creative outlet as writing, painting, or any other form of artistry. Sometimes the difference between a good and bad photo can come down to something as small as timing:

Even something as simple and mundane as a selfie can be turned into a creative and appealing final image. Take Derek Johnston’s selfie in which he appears to be falling, with food flying toward the camera. It took quite a bit of skill and quite a lot of patience, but the whole photograph is a carefully constructed – and extremely creative – tableau.

If you’re interested in learning a bit more about how to master the art of photography, here are ten online courses to get you started, as well as some great recommendations from Lynda.com.

To Participate in Other People’s Lives

“All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” – Susan Sontag

Yes, photography can sometimes be a lonely activity, but at the same time, taking a photo gives you the opportunity – albeit briefly – to be part of someone else’s life. Wedding photographers, street photographers, and anyone who has paused for a moment in the street to capture a fleeting image understands this perfectly.

I took the photo above while walking down a pedestrian street in Cairo. I don’t know why this man chose to carry that large bowl over his head, but what I do know is that I saw him walking toward me. I snapped the shot, we exchanged smiles – him fully knowing that I had taken a photo of him – and quietly walked past each other without saying a word.

Moments like this are why I personally love to take photos. There’s a deeply human element to every photograph that allows you to connect with others in a unique and special way.

To See the World Differently

“I began to realize that the camera sees the world differently than the human eye and that sometimes those differences can make a photograph more powerful than what you actually observed.” – Galen Rowell

The more you take photographs, the more you’ll notice little things that might go unnoticed by others. This is a distinctly different benefit from the others listed above as those bring with them a kind of immediate gratification. The ability to see things differently only comes with time and practice.

The more you take photographs, the more you’ll see the world differently.

While some people might argue that we have become more obsessed with taking photos with our smartphones rather than living in the moment, all it takes is one shot. Don’t spend too long behind the lens, otherwise you might actually miss out on all the other interesting shots around you.

“Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.” – Matt Hardy

No photographer better embodies the concept of seeing things differently than Chema Madoz. The Spanish photographer transforms everyday objects into surreal works of art – turning gutter grills into dish racks, hair pins into rainy seascapes, and mundane pipes into flutes.

With enough time, photography can unlock new perspectives in every person’s eye.

To Tell Stories

“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.” – Lewis Hine

They say a picture is worth a thousand words – a cliche, sure, but it’s a cliche for a reason. A single image has the power to convey so much emotion, sometimes even more than a poem or a story. Nowhere is this more evident than among photojournalists.

History is told in these images: the minutes following Martin Luther King’s assassination as people point in the direction from which the shot came; one man facing off with a tank in Tiananmen Square; or Bernie Boston’s image of a protester placing flowers in the muzzle of a soldier’s gun during an anti-Vietnam War rally:

Whether in photojournalism, in street photography, or even in family photos, there’s always an opportunity to tell a story. All it takes is a camera and the perfect moment.

article by N.Messieh

E-commerce: How men and Women differ shopping online

We all know about the battles of the sexes, but how do they stack up in the e-commerce environment?