Has Access Over Ownership Crossed The Chasm Yet?

One of the reasons I love Twitter is that it is an amazing sentiment engine if you pay attention. The problem for many people is that you really need to live inside Twitter in order to use it this way, it’s not something you “check”, it’s something that is omnipresent in your life. It is your constant connection to information.

If you use it the way I do, you can pick up on very important changes in sentiment, whether they be related to the market, a specific company, a cultural meme, or a huge economic trend like access over ownership and collaborative consumption.

Over the past few weeks I’ve felt huge movement in the pace of the access over ownership and collaborative consumption revolution. It seems like there are multiple stories and data points each day now that point to the accelerating pace. In no particular order, here are just a few examples from the last few days.

Zipcar reported bad earnings while Zimride and Getaround just raised monster series A financings at huge valuations. Zipcar doesn’t have the model right, they own the cars instead of just having the people own the cars. There are new articles every week now about how ride sharing is exploding and these companies are blowing up.

Ford and GM are getting crushed, and today we see an article out of Bloomberg where the car company executives are worried about the Millennials not buying cars because they are connecting on Facebook and texting. Please for a second just excuse those executives for having no clue what’s going on and just focus on the fact that they know they are screwed because for whatever reason people aren’t going to be buying as many cars as they used to. It’s because those who can actually afford to buy a car live in urban areas where they can take public transport, and the rest of us don’t want to be tied down to the kind of commitment it takes to own a car, partially because we have to change jobs all the time and we want to be flexible with where we live.

Stuyvesant Town, the big apartment complex in NYC, just sent out a huge number of notices to its residents that they aren’t allowed to rent out their places on Airbnb. As I’ve said before, this is yet another tiny speed bump which has no shot in hell at slowing down the Airbnb tsunami. But for Sty Town to do this en mass says a lot, it says a lot about how far Airbnb has come and how ubiquitous it is now.

So the question is, have we crossed the chasm yet? My answer is no, but we’re getting awfully close. A few years ago I wrote what I feel is one of the best posts I’ve ever written outlining why this economic shift would change the world, primarily for the better, and I said that we were in inning 1 back then. I think we’ve entered the bottom half of inning 2 now. At some point in the next two years we’re going to cross that chasm and this shift will accelerate even further.

Humans have a difficult time thinking non linearly. In our heads we extrapolate on a linear scale, we don’t do well with acceleration and projections. Mark my words, once this crosses that chasm it will catch a lot of people way off guard as to how transformative it will be in a VERY short amount of time. And not just transformative, but disruptive, to industries and societies.

We’re almost there, these are exciting times.

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