In the last decade we have observed an increasing number of people in cities around the world staying in other people’s homes using Airbnb, joining strangers for a ride with BlaBlaBla car, renting city bikes to run errands or do sightseeing, or even borrowing garden tools from a neighbour. Digital technology helps us connect with strangers and borrow their homes, cars, tools, clothes, accessories and toys. It also helps us offer items we do not use often for others to use.
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Sharing economy companies have found a way to enter existing markets with historically high entry barriers. Take for example Airbnb, an “accommodation sharing” platform, which has gained more market worth than the world’s fourth largest hotel chain Marriot. While Airbnb was founded only in 2008, Marriot has been around since 1927. Some call the uptake of sharing platforms a “market disruption.” Along with Airbnb, Uber, the taxi-hailing company, is also often mentioned. However, there is more to the sharing economy than Airbnb and Uber, and there is more to the disruption than the talked-about market disruption.