The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop #01165

Submission Number:
Kevin Silva
North Carolina
Initiative Name:
The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
I have used several resources that are part of the sharing economy, including Airbnb and Uber. I will focus my comments on two general topics, and use my experiences with Airbnb (as both a host and a guest) to share my observations, although they apply to other areas of the sharing economy as well. I first discovered Airbnb while visiting a very ill family member who was living in New York City at the time. Since my visit would require an extended stay I needed to find a place that was clean, comfortable, convenient to his home and affordable. That turned out to be not only difficult, but impossible. Instead, I discovered Airbnb and stayed with a young professional couple who I'm sure were struggling financially. They were a delight; pleasant, friendly and far more helpful than the average desk clerk at a hotel. So as it turned out, I had a better experience as a guest while I also helped them make ends meet. Fast forward a year and I decided to become an Airbnb host, and have since hosted over 2 dozen guests including individuals, couples and even families. They came from multiple states and several countries. In all cases they were terrific experiences that indeed gave us an opportunity to "share": stories, tips, information about the areas in which we live, our cultures, and resources that make traveling and cultural exchanges possible. In most cases these opportunities would have otherwise been impossible or at least unlikely. Let me share just one example. At the start of the school year last fall, I had what I considered to be a very brave young couple stay at my home for two weeks. They had never been to the US, but had come here from China (with their little two-year-old daughter) to teach Chinese in the Wake County school system; he at a middle school and she at an elementary school. Although their jobs in the school system were already in place, they were on an extremely tight budge and had a limited amount of time to get acclimated and manage all the practical elements involved in moving not only to a new community but a new culture. Their opportunity to stay with someone who could help them navigate the area and the culture was invaluable. And far less expensive than what it would have cost to stay in a motel that gave them cooking privileges in a full kitchen. We shared meals, information and fun together, and it was a pleasure to help this young, courageous couple get settled in a new home. And I of course benefited from the supplemental income that has helped me navigate semi-retimement. So my first point is about sharing. It has many beneficial effects, not all of which can be measured in numbers and dollars. My second point has to do with some fundamental principles which are admittedly influenced by my opinions, observations and point of view. We hear so much about global competition and how important consumption is to keeping the economic "engines running". It seems to me that if we don't start shifting from a model based on competition and consumption to a model based on intelligent cooperation and sharing, we are headed in a direction that is at a minimum uncertain, and perhaps far worse. Kevin Silva Raleigh, NC