The Sharing Economy in Action

The Sharing Economy in Action

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Green Builder Media CEO, Sara Gutterman

Tesla Supercharger network

Green Builder Media

Friday, July 11, 2014 - 5:00pm

CAMPAIGN: Ethical and Sustainable Living


Last week, I wrote about how the Sharing Economy is transforming capitalism (by emphasizing access to goods rather than ownership) and providing an important part of the solution to our urgent environmental needs (by enabling more people to use fewer resources.)

The Sharing Economy has been propelled by a shift in core values, embracing collaborative, peer-to-peer, cloud-based, and distributed networks. On a social level, people are disseminating and accessing information like never before. On a corporate level, companies that espouse the Sharing Economy are amassing loyal customers and enjoying financial success.

Of course, there are the companies like Airbnb, Uber, and Snapgoods that have developed business models based on novel Sharing Economy principles. But there are other companies with more traditional models that are also paving the way to a more collaborative approach.

Take Google, for example, which made its Android operating software available for competitors to use at no charge. While the move seemed risky at the time, the company recognized that they had more to win by expanding the market for mobile devices and ensuring that their search engine and other revenue-based digital services were compatible and prominently featured.

Google’s open-source strategy has served the company well: its stock has soared and Android is now the most widely adopted mobile operating system in the world, used on over 1 billion devices.

In a similar move to drive market growth, electric vehicle maker Tesla recently opened its patent portfolio to anyone, including its competitors, who wants to use the intellectual property for productive purposes. "If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal," said Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder and CEO.