Memory Lane alert. When I was a student at Bauhaus-University 1999-2005, all things internet were kind of new, promising and exciting.
Back in the olden days we analyzed the business cases of DELL and sorts to cheer about direct distribution and cutting out those costly middle men. And virtual communities were a movement not platforms to target ads. Today digital business is all about controlling massive marketplaces.
In those university seminars we were applauding to the possibilities of a long-tail economy and all this. I know, I am not the first to notice and a lot has been written about it already.
But something around the diversion in how digital technology is used in commerce and business has reached a peak in bugging me.
We have successfully cut out the middle men in the early days of the internet just to now rely on monolithic market place providers who introduced new transaction costs. What a move.
Today, the global market places of Airbnb, Uber, Upwork & co. are all cashing in on their double-sided fees from those who seek a service and those who offer one. And it is a fantastic business model for them. Richy rich they'll get. Billion dollar valuation. Little employees I have, well those who run the marketplace infrastructure. Congratulations. Airbnb, Uber & co do heavy lobbying in Washington, Brussels, Berlin because they do not want to lose this tremendous market potential. Not because they care about sharing or want to help out some people to make ends meet.
Everyone's a CEO and you can make that extra dollar from this spare room you have or squeeze in this gig for some more financial headspace. BS!
The only few people who are getting rich on these marketplaces are the CEOs, founders, shareholders and VCs. Not the people who are providing the actual service and/or guest experience.
Let us not forget the real price tag of such marketplaces: the de-solidarization towards society and communities worldwide. Be it because they run cute tax schemes, rely on "freelancers" who should rather be called employees, or because they exploit other people's property.
I am not willing to buy their shit anymore. This is why it is great to see some more dynamic evolve around alternatives such as Platform Cooperativism recently. We should all read this book, come together and have a healthy debate.