The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
Dear FTC, I am a citizen, entrepreneur, and single father of a 7 year old daughter. In November of last year, I lost my job at a tech firm. This change is stressful financially, especially since I am 50 and work in a very young industry, but also invigorating. I took the opportunity to pursue more intellectually rewarding work in my field of expertise, work that I believe provides greater long term potential, but does not come with a paycheck today. While I look for a job, I am exploring entrepreneurial projects with various colleagues. None of these endeavors are money-making enterprises today. But all of them have the potential to turn into companies that are contributing to the United States GDP, adding value to the economy, and creating jobs. I am not rich and it is not easy. But I am making it work, feel good about myself again, and am setting an excellent example for my child. So how do I manage to devote time to this while supporting my daughter? I've cut back expenses dramatically. And I've been creative with ways to generate supplemental income. None of this would be possible without the Sharing Economy. When I travel for a business opportunity, I stay at low-cost AirBnB rather than much higher cost hotels. I use UberX or Lyft for ground transportation rather than taxis. On AirBnB I rent my home out while I'm away, and sometimes while I'm there. Without these services, I would just be looking for a handout and waiting for a job. Instead, I'm actively contributing to society, better positioning myself for the right job by staying relevant and involved in my industry, and I'm getting close to not just creating a new job for myself but creating an entity that employs others. Surprisingly, there have been numerous unexpected benefits from participation within the Sharing Economy. First of all, I feel safer and more comfortable. Yes, much safer driving in an Uber or Lyft car than a taxi. The vehicles may be simple but they are nicer, better maintained, and cleaner. The same could be said for the drivers. Hosts and I talk, and to a person they have interesting stories, not unlike mine. Particularly when I travel with my daughter, AirBnB allows us to feel more at home and, again, I hear stories not unlike my own. The transparency of crowd-sourced reviews relieve the need for oversight and regulation to attempt to do the same. And crowd sourcing is MUCH more effective. The Sharing Economy directly supports micro-entrepreneurship and innovation. This is the very foundation for which American success is built. I encourage the FTC to actively support such businesses and continue to look forward, not backward, with regard to new and better ways to do business. Thank you.