The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
Thank you for taking my comment. My name is Susan. I have lived in my 4 bedroom Berkeley home for 33 years. I raised my three children there and nursed two husbands there until their deaths from cancer, the first in 1998, the second in 2009. I was fully employed until 2010, when I lost my nonprofit admin job from a downsize. I started doing freelance writing and editing and have been fairly successful at it. However, I started hosting on Airbnb about 2 years ago and found that the extra income gave me a sense of security, all but guaranteeing my mortgage payment every month. For a widow approaching 60 in the bay area, where all of the companies are looking for 20 somethings to fill their staffs, this helped me feel that I could take time to transition to a new way of supporting myself in the wake of my children leaving home and establishing their own lives. I am also able to generate work for support people (housecleaners and greeters) when I am unable to be there myself. That's a relatively rare event, but it does happen. I found that hosting was also really enjoyable. I have always welcomed guests and had dinners for family and friends, so sharing my home came easily. I found that I loved meeting people from all over the world and doing my best to give them a comfortable place to stay and lots of information about the place I live. I clue them in on the best places to eat, where to shop for groceries, how to use the public transportation systems, where to get the best views of the area. Guests repeatedly say they are comfortable, would love to return to Berkeley and San Francisco, and that they love having the insider tips on where to go. I feel comfortable welcoming strangers because of the values of trust and respect that are so prevalent throughout Airbnb's interface and communication. We hosts and guests alike have, I think, a sense of creating a new paradigm and participating in an enterprise that benefits everyone. There's a tremendous excitement inherent in that. I have had guests from every continent, have made wonderful friends, and have invitations to visit people all over the world. That couldn't have happened any other way. It's one of the best uses of technology I can imagine, one that uses our computers and phones to create real, personal, and human connection, showing us that we have more in common than we have differences. I'm including a file that Susie from Germany took of me while I was cooking a dinner that we shared.