Opportunities and risks in the share economy

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. What’s with all the sharing?
  3. How disruptive is the share-economy model to existing industries?
  4. Companies to watch
    1. Vacation sharing
    2. Office sharing
    3. Car sharing
    4. Honorable mentions
  5. Opportunities and potential risks
    1. Opportunities
    2. Risks
  6. Looking ahead
  7. About Adam Lesser


The global population will reach 9 billion by 2050. Owning physical items — cars, apartments, office space — has both lost some of its luster and will be increasingly inefficient for a global market. It is shifts like these, combined with catalysts like mobile technology, that are driving a greater interest in the share economy, which can broadly be defined as a marketplace where business models are built around consumers choosing access rather than ownership. Companies like Zipcar and Airbnb have paved the way here, but a host of startups have surfaced recently, too.

This report will focus on two models of sharing: centralized-ownership models, where the company owns the underlying asset (Zipcar, for example), and peer-to-peer models, where an online platform catalyzes sharing among individuals and even businesses.

Key sectors in the share economy include car sharing, vacation sharing, office sharing, and ride sharing. Each has its own set of companies to watch, as well as its own opportunities and risks.

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