Community-Based Marketplaces Defend Against Tech “Apocalypse”


In the days of everyone needing a “side hustle,” many feel like the American dream has failed us. Matt Ruby gives a hilariously accurate description of our complete consumption by technology in his recent article for Medium. But “the sharing economy” he critiques isn’t all about lining shareholders’ pockets.

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Matt accuses tech giants like Uber and Seamless of being signs of the apocalypse -- they benefit white/young/privileged America and lock the rest of us into an “unending hamster wheel of capitalism and technology.”


While I agree with him to a certain extent, I think Matt overlooks the real social value of “the sharing economy” that he’s calling out. The unicorn segment accounts for a very small percentage of companies, but an overwhelming representation of the industry’s identity.


This is because of the improper categorization of companies like Uber, which really doesn’t “share” anything. It simply deploys a new economic model that exploits abundance on either side of their marketplace. And just because a company is a marketplace, it doesn’t mean it’s sharing anything.


The majority of companies within “the sharing economy” exist to empower communities.


Community-based marketplaces use technology to bring people together around products, services, experiences, interests… the opportunities are essentially boundless.


Established brands are creating affiliated marketplaces to give existing communities trusted platforms to interact, share and perform commerce.


Trust is the cornerstone of the sharing economy. Marketplaces establish and preserve trust mechanisms that allow people to come together and benefit.


Matt, if you’re reading, well done! You did a great job calling out the platforms you DON’T TRUST because honestly, that's the only regulation these types of companies have. There definitely are companies out there looking to exploit the impatience of millennials and the poor economic climate.


Those companies are floated by huge investment rounds that allow rapid development and ridiculous amounts of ad traffic. And like Matt says, their bottom line is investor ROI. They aren’t directly concerned with providing value to their community, which is why they have violated so many people’s trust.


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