The Future of Ownership: Having More, Owning Less

General Motors (GM) will begin testing a car-sharing program that will allow owners of GM vehicles to rent out their cars when not in use. Cars today sit unused 95% of the time according to The Economist. By putting their cars on GM’s Maven platform, car owners will be able to share the rental revenue that GM collects. GM’s Maven unit already rents out its own vehicles through services like Zipcar and also lends cars to Uber and Lyft drivers. Facilitating a peer-to-peer sharing service would allow GM access to more rental vehicles and establish an additional stream of revenue without owning and maintaining more cars. With its move away from its business model as an automobile manufacturer and toward that of mobility provider, GM may do for their vehicle owners what Airbnb has done for homeowners. General Motors may exit the industrial economy and enter the sharing economy.

 

GM’s self-driving unit, Cruise Automation, has developed driverless Chevrolet Bolts with an application that converts them to robo-taxis in a ride-hailing fleet. Last September, Daimler AG of Germany and SK Holdings of South Korea led a financing round for Turo, another company which allows car owners to list and rent their vehicles. Toyota Motors (TM) bought into car sharer Getaround last year. Elon Musk, writing about Tesla’s intention for self driving cars said, “You will also be able to add your car the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app.” Musk continued, “This dramatically lowers the true cost of ownership to the point where almost anyone could own a Tesla.”

 

Owning a car in the 21st century may become as antiquated as owning a horse became in the 20th century. In the next decade, 80% of vehicle sales will be to fleet management companies rather than individual consumers according to Jaime Moreno, CEO of Mormedi, a strategic design consultancy. “You don’t need to own cars to live in the city anymore,” Mr. Moreno said in reference to car subscription programs like Porsche Passport and Book by Cadillac.

 

But it is not just traditional family cars that are being shared. Anything that can be described digitally—apartments, office space, equipment—can be “tokenized” on a distributed ledger and shared securely through a smart contract mechanism. ShareRing, a start-up on the scene intends to be the “Amazon of the sharing economy.” With its custom application, ShareRing will enable access to any asset available to rent, borrow or share, anywhere in the world. Its distributed ledger—ShareLedger—creates a “dual-token” mechanism. One token—SharePay (SHRP)—is the base currency that allows users to pay each other for the use of tokenized assets. The other—ShareToken (SHR)—is the “digital utility token” to be written to ShareLedger and traded like other cryptocurrencies. This allows blockchain rental agreements for shared assets to be based upon a stable cryptocurrency.

 

ShareRing has one significant advantage over its car-sharing competition. In 2013 Tim Bos, the ShareRing Chief Executive, launched Keaz, a telematics platform for car-sharing companies that now realizes revenue of over $200,000 per month. Behind Mr. Bos’s leadership, ShareRing has raised $3.8 million from its Pre-Token Sharing Event. BYD Auto of China, the world’s largest maker of electric vehicles, will be a foundation customer for ShareRing.

 

Mobike, a Chinese dockless bike-sharing start-up, is considering expansion into car-sharing by leveraging its experience partnering with local governments. The yellow bikes of Ofo, another Chinese bike-sharing firm, number over 10 million in 200 cities worldwide. Ofo bikes need not be returned to a docking station, but can be left anywhere at the end of the rider’s route, because the bikes are locked and unlocked with a smart-phone payment application. Mobike, whose bikes are orange-and silver, insists that their business is so healthy that if they stopped their expansion today, “their balance sheets would be a sea of black.” Beyond dependence upon rental revenue, Ofo and Mobike could in time turn their bike networks into data generators. Their bikes are tracked by satellite, so they could indicate the relative popularity of shopping and dining destinations. Fairbike, a Dutch designer, intends to incorporate blockchain technology and smart contracts into bike-sharing. By establishing each bicycle as an individual identity, a Fairbike can't be stolen, because it owns itself.

 

But bicycle sharing was once a radical idea and an illegal practice. “The first bicycles were freed on July 28th, 1965 according to The Economist. Provo, a Dutch anarchist group, proclaimed on posted flyers, “The asphalt terror of the motorized bourgeoisie has lasted long enough.” Provo painted three black bicycles white and left them unlocked on the street. The police impounded the bikes, and then whacked the Provo leader with a truncheon during his arrest for painting another bike white.

 

But cars and bikes are just the start of the sharing economy. Many farmers in Africa walk for a week to take a single cow to market and accept whatever price is offered. Moovr, an Uber for cows, hopes to connect truck drivers with these farmers. Nairobi does not have an ambulance dispatch system. Flare, an Uber for ambulances, uses a smart-phone application for dispatch, much like cab-hailing companies link with riders. Lifebank intends to deliver blood to cities without blood banks. Nigerian entrepreneurs are proposing a tractor-sharing service, while a Kenyan group wants to link idle trucks with goods to be shipped. “The really cool thing about what we’re doing is that it is cloud-based and smart-phone driven,” says Caitlin Dolkart, a co-founder of Flare. James Middleton, co-founder of Moovr, sums up the sharing economy in Africa: “Just as Africans skipped past fixed phone lines straight to mobile phones, they can skip past owning a vehicle straight to the shared economy.”

General Motors (GM) will begin testing a car-sharing program that will allow owners of GM vehicles to rent out their cars when not in use. Cars today sit unused 95% of the time according to The Economist. By putting their cars on GM’s Maven platform, car owners will be able to share the rental revenue that GM collects. GM’s Maven unit already rents out its own vehicles through services like Zipcar and also lends cars to Uber and Lyft drivers. Facilitating a peer-to-peer sharing service would allow GM access to more rental vehicles and establish an additional stream of revenue without owning and maintaining more cars. With its move away from its business model as an automobile manufacturer and toward that of mobility provider, GM may do for their vehicle owners what Airbnb has done for homeowners. General Motors may exit the industrial economy and enter the sharing economy.

 

GM’s self-driving unit, Cruise Automation, has developed driverless Chevrolet Bolts with an application that converts them to robo-taxis in a ride-hailing fleet. Last September, Daimler AG of Germany and SK Holdings of South Korea led a financing round for Turo, another company which allows car owners to list and rent their vehicles. Toyota Motors (TM) bought into car sharer Getaround last year. Elon Musk, writing about Tesla’s intention for self driving cars said, “You will also be able to add your car the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app.” Musk continued, “This dramatically lowers the true cost of ownership to the point where almost anyone could own a Tesla.”

 

Owning a car in the 21st century may become as antiquated as owning a horse became in the 20th century. In the next decade, 80% of vehicle sales will be to fleet management companies rather than individual consumers according to Jaime Moreno, CEO of Mormedi, a strategic design consultancy. “You don’t need to own cars to live in the city anymore,” Mr. Moreno said in reference to car subscription programs like Porsche Passport and Book by Cadillac.

 

But it is not just traditional family cars that are being shared. Anything that can be described digitally—apartments, office space, equipment—can be “tokenized” on a distributed ledger and shared securely through a smart contract mechanism. ShareRing, a start-up on the scene intends to be the “Amazon of the sharing economy.” With its custom application, ShareRing will enable access to any asset available to rent, borrow or share, anywhere in the world. Its distributed ledger—ShareLedger—creates a “dual-token” mechanism. One token—SharePay (SHRP)—is the base currency that allows users to pay each other for the use of tokenized assets. The other—ShareToken (SHR)—is the “digital utility token” to be written to ShareLedger and traded like other cryptocurrencies. This allows blockchain rental agreements for shared assets to be based upon a stable cryptocurrency.

 

ShareRing has one significant advantage over its car-sharing competition. In 2013 Tim Bos, the ShareRing Chief Executive, launched Keaz, a telematics platform for car-sharing companies that now realizes revenue of over $200,000 per month. Behind Mr. Bos’s leadership, ShareRing has raised $3.8 million from its Pre-Token Sharing Event. BYD Auto of China, the world’s largest maker of electric vehicles, will be a foundation customer for ShareRing.

 

Mobike, a Chinese dockless bike-sharing start-up, is considering expansion into car-sharing by leveraging its experience partnering with local governments. The yellow bikes of Ofo, another Chinese bike-sharing firm, number over 10 million in 200 cities worldwide. Ofo bikes need not be returned to a docking station, but can be left anywhere at the end of the rider’s route, because the bikes are locked and unlocked with a smart-phone payment application. Mobike, whose bikes are orange-and silver, insists that their business is so healthy that if they stopped their expansion today, “their balance sheets would be a sea of black.” Beyond dependence upon rental revenue, Ofo and Mobike could in time turn their bike networks into data generators. Their bikes are tracked by satellite, so they could indicate the relative popularity of shopping and dining destinations. Fairbike, a Dutch designer, intends to incorporate blockchain technology and smart contracts into bike-sharing. By establishing each bicycle as an individual identity, a Fairbike can't be stolen, because it owns itself.

 

But bicycle sharing was once a radical idea and an illegal practice. “The first bicycles were freed on July 28th, 1965 according to The Economist. Provo, a Dutch anarchist group, proclaimed on posted flyers, “The asphalt terror of the motorized bourgeoisie has lasted long enough.” Provo painted three black bicycles white and left them unlocked on the street. The police impounded the bikes, and then whacked the Provo leader with a truncheon during his arrest for painting another bike white.

 

But cars and bikes are just the start of the sharing economy. Many farmers in Africa walk for a week to take a single cow to market and accept whatever price is offered. Moovr, an Uber for cows, hopes to connect truck drivers with these farmers. Nairobi does not have an ambulance dispatch system. Flare, an Uber for ambulances, uses a smart-phone application for dispatch, much like cab-hailing companies link with riders. Lifebank intends to deliver blood to cities without blood banks. Nigerian entrepreneurs are proposing a tractor-sharing service, while a Kenyan group wants to link idle trucks with goods to be shipped. “The really cool thing about what we’re doing is that it is cloud-based and smart-phone driven,” says Caitlin Dolkart, a co-founder of Flare. James Middleton, co-founder of Moovr, sums up the sharing economy in Africa: “Just as Africans skipped past fixed phone lines straight to mobile phones, they can skip past owning a vehicle straight to the shared economy.”