Anybody who uses Airbnb knows that the company is resting on its laurels as the first mover in the home-sharing economy 1.0, but its dominance rests atop exploitation of the hosts and guests that are actually doing the sharing and creating the value. The guests pay too much and the hosts are paid too little. The resulting situation is akin to feudalism, rendering hosts as serfs who rent out their homes, keep things clean, deal with guests, and do the actual work. Yet the value derived from Airbnb’s peer-to-peer exchange goes directly to shareholders who are multiple steps removed from the action on the ground. It’s nothing less than an injustice.
There’s a very simple reason for why this is the case. Web 2.0 sharing economies like Airbnb and Uber (NYSE:) are forced into what’s called the extraction imperative. In the early days of these platforms, they were aligned with their users on both sides of the market, and treated both as partners to kickstart network effects — similar to offering early subsidies to get people on the platform. The peer-to-peer element of the sharing economy was placed front-and-center in the brand’s marketing, and it seemed as though a populist takeover of the travel industry was afoot.
Luke Kim, originally from Tokyo and Seoul, is a co-founder of Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator, a co-inventor of two blockchain-based public finance models in partnership with a U.S. mayor’s office, and a technology marketer. He is building the future of the home-sharing economy as a genesis team member of Dtravel.
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