By: Kish Rajan
I recently was a guest on a cable news show to discuss politicians’ attitudes toward companies like Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit. On this occasion, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes got particularly heated when I brought up the “sharing economy.” He shot back, insisting the name is misleading: “No one’s sharing anything. People are just selling things a different way,” he said.
Hayes isn’t the first person to make this claim, and I don’t completely disagree with his semantics. But I prefer to use the term “personal enterprise economy” to describe the new paradigm. Why? The substantive criticism is that rideshare drivers and home share hosts aren’t sharing their assets; in reality, they’re selling them. Point conceded, happily.
It’s called entrepreneurship, and that’s why this new personal enterprise economy is so exciting. Powerful new technology platforms are empowering regular people to become the CEOs of their own enterprises — marketing and selling their assets and talents to a global marketplace heretofore out of reach to the average person. Until now, global markets were the exclusive domain of companies with the resources and capacity to reach those markets. Technology is transforming that, opening up a new world of opportunity to everyday people. See the marketing consultant in Los Angeles using video conferencing to sell her services in Beijing. Consider the baker in Fresno selling his cookies to the customer in Brazil.