This story is a great example of the challenges of disruptions that may not come from direct competition and therefor not be on your radar…until it’s too late.
Cities that try to protect local businesses by blocking or resisting innovation, especially when consumers want it, (generally but not always) make a short sighted mistake. Take something like the active monthly users (customers) of Lyft and Uber that are 40 million strong. As one of them, I can attest that it is something I check before I travel. I want to know if I am going to a community that limits my options and sometimes it has led me to take a flight into and sometimes stay in a neighboring city because I am a fan of Lyft and UberEats. They make travel much more pleasant and so I spend more in the cities where they are active. And I am only one of 40 million.
One of the challenges of the sharing economy is that it flies in opposition of prominent cultural values that never seem to be a major consideration in these conversations. To what degree does that inhibit the ability of municipalities to see the transformation unfolding in reaction to, as opposed to merely seeing a threat to, old local economic models?
Much has been said in recent months about Uber and its travails as a company, with big leadership changes, and then an outright ban in London. Even so, Ubers (and Lyfts) are rolling down city streets, and the 40 million monthly active riders indicate that this is an incredibly popular transportation option.
Many people love using Airbnb, as well, as the company cites 150 million global users. However, concerns continue to arise coast to coast over its impact on neighborhoods and existing services. These companies — representative of much of the public conception of the “sharing economy” — have, together with others in the on-demand space, upended traditional business models and ushered in vast innovation to our cities.
The relationships between cities and sharing economy companies have grown and morphed in recent years — in many cases, positively. But, challenges surrounding core municipal issues remain, and many established companies are still grappling with how to adjust to a new business environment….