What on earth is happening at Uber? The company, which in recent months has continued its rapid growth, has been busy disrupting the taxi industry globally since its inception five years ago. Unfortunately, the company appears to be causing not only controversy – some of which is inevitable when a new business model upsets an entrenched industry such as the taxi and limo business – but getting itself into hot water all over the place, including most recently in the U.S marketplace and political scene. This begs the question: Will the company’s board rein in the CEO and management team before regulators step in, or will the company’s arrogance prove to be literally a fatal flaw?
After experiencing rapid growth since its 2008 founding and receiving a recent valuation of $10bn, Airbnb has become a standard-bearer for the much-hyped sharing economy. This socio-economic-technological movement is not entirely new; its roots are in traditional boardinghouses and more recently in 1990s internet precursors such as eBay and Craigslist. But Airbnb differs from, say, Uber, which I covered in my last post. Whereas Uber’s main focus has been on reorganizing the licensed taxi and limo business globally, Airbnb and other newcomers facilitate the matching of unused or surplus space owned by private individuals with travelers seeking a cheap, personal form of accommodation. What are the key ingredients for Airbnb’s ongoing success, and how should incumbents disrupted by Airbnb respond?