Things I have learned about the sharing economy

November 19, 2014

airbnb shed uber lyft
($20/night. Will provide blankets, tap water.)

This Life of the Law episode covers some of the murky legal issues surrounding “sharing economy” businesses like Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft.  As a lifelong user of hotels and taxis, I admit to knowing next to nothing about these things other than they had goofy names or were spelled wrong, so it was eye-opening.  Here are a few more things I can add:

  • Airbnb has helped my in-laws.  They’re filmmakers who live in Bozeman, Montana.  As freelancers, they’re on the road a fair amount.  As freelancers, that also means checks don’t come in every two weeks.  Renting their house out on Airbnb to vacationers while they’re out of town helps them cover those gaps.
  • If my in-laws ran a budget hotel, they might have a different opinion of Airbnb.
  • Some of the people who run Uber seem really unpleasant.  Really, really unpleasant.
  • I do have friends who live in the mass transit-less and taxi-averse suburbs that swear by Uber/Lyft.  I am genuinely curious if continued negative reports like those linked above will cause them to reassess. I’m not the only one.

This is my way of saying that I’m still making up my mind on these things.  I don’t think they’re evil.  I also tend to be ever on guard against “wave of the future” pronouncements, and have actually sprained my eyeballs from rolling them whenever I hear someone use the word “disruptive” sincerely.

That said, I have a shed in the backyard where we keep our bicycles and the lawnmower.  There is no power or heat, but if you want a rustic, back-to-nature experience, maybe it’s just the place for you.  Rates are negotiable.  I will move the lawnmower.