Startups let people sidestep corporate greed

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 18:31 EDT
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SAN FRANCISCO — While Occupy Wall Street protestors rail against the economic elite a new breed of Internet startups is out to overthrow big businesses as rulers of the marketplace.

Entrepreneurs are catering to a new generation that would rather share cars than own them; sleep in spare bedrooms instead of haughty hotels, or raise capital from peers instead of borrowing from banks.

“We are at the start of an ownership revolution,” said Rachel Botsman, whose successful book What’s Mine is Yours showcases a technology-driven shift to “collaborative consumption.”

“We don’t want the DVD, we want the music,” she continued. “We don’t want cars, we want to get from A to B. There is a generation growing up that has a whole different relationship to ownership.”

Hot startups embracing the trend include Zimride, Task Rabbit, and Airbnb, which have flourished by providing services that let people share car rides, chores, and spare room respectively.

“It is about getting back to the sense of neighborhood that people lost and want a piece of back,” Task Rabbit founder Leah Busque told AFP.

“Finally, technology has caught up in a way that it can mimic human behavior and develop trust in a community,” she continued. “These collaborative consumption companies are thriving.”

Airbnb was recently valued at a billion dollars. Task Rabbit reported seeing about $4 million in economic activity monthly and boasted creating 2,000 jobs in the past six months.

“The way people live and do things is changing,” Busque said.

“We are on the brink of a major groundswell of peer-to-peer marketplaces shifting the way things happen.”

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
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