A brief exchange with Collaborative Lab's Lauren Anderson
What really makes a city collaborative is its appetite to try new things, and embrace new ways of thinking about how they go about daily life. Also a desire for openness and connection among neighbors and strangers. Leading collaborative consumption cities place a high value on a sense of community (specifically European cities like Berlin, Amsterdam, etc.).
SFBG As the idea of collaborative consumption matures, we're starting to see some interesting contradictions arise. For instance, right now in SF there's a lot of debate around Airbnb. Some think that because Airbnb operates outside of current tax laws and government regulations, it's robbing the city of needed infrastructure revenue even as it's allowing more people to visit the city, and in some cases could lead to tricky lawsuits due to its unregulated nature. There's also now some debate going on about ZipCar — some people are discovering that people actually drive more now that cars are more available, and fear for both the environment and the diversity and resources of public transportation. Can you share your thoughts on such cases?
LA As collaborative consumption companies garner mainstream attention, it is expected that traditional industries will be challenged by these disruptors. We have actually noticed two polarized approaches to dealing with collaborative consumption — the first, as you describe, is where industry and government tries to introduce heavy legislation that make it hard to continue the activity in its current form, as in the case of Airbnb.
The second is where incumbents see the vast opportunities offered by collaborative consumption business models and look to diversify their revenue streams or in fact explore new models entirely. We have really seen auto manufacturers come to the table in this way, with partnerships with existing carsharing platforms (Ford+Zipcar, GM+RelayRides) as well as establishing their own (Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen).
This second approach is certainly more positive than the first, but as collaborative consumption companies mature, it's reasonable to expect that they have a responsibility to make a contribution back to the cities they operate in the same way that businesses have done for many years.