Major corporations are increasingly investing in and building partnerships with emerging start-ups in the burgeoning 'sharing economy' that uses technology to connect people and services in order to keep up with disruptive companies such as Uber in transportation and Airbnb in travel.
Last month, Hyatt Hotels invested an undisclosed amount in
OneFineStay, the home rental company which allows travelers to rent
high-end residences while the owner is away. In March, Enterprise
Rent-A-Car, the world's biggest car hire company, bought Britain's
largest car-sharing company City Car Club. Automobile giant BMW last
year launched the car-sharing scheme 'DriveNow' along with the car
rental firm Sixt and invested in the JustPark app, installing it into
its Minis to allow drivers to find a parking space.
The growth of major travel and transportation companies in the
sharing economy, such as car service app Uber, valued at €35.7 billion
as of last December, and space rental site Airbnb, valued at €11.6
billion in October, has fuelled an increasing interest from the
mainstream corporate world. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) estimates will
be worth €11 billion a year by 2025.
"Business is forever changed. [The sharing economy] does not operate
in the way that traditional industries do, because it's led by people,
it's led by demand," she says. "Now, people are the producers and
suppliers of goods and services, they are no longer reliant on large
"What that means is that large corporations are having to find
different ways of doing business. Large companies are recognising that
this is a future face of business and, if they want to be in the game,
then they need to be in the sharing economy," she adds.
Debbie Wosskow, founder of home rental service Love Home Swap and
chairman of the UK's new sharing economy trade body, Sharing Economy UK
(SEUK) says it's essential for big business to think about the sharing
economy. "If we look at millennials and the consumers of the future then
they are going to own less assets and share more. The smart money
An independent review of
the sharing economy, ordered by the government and conducted by
Wosskow, revealed that the industry could turn the UK into a country of
"microentrepreneurs", adding £9 billion (€12 billion) to the British
economy annually by 2025.