This week, OuishareFest is kicking off its annual conference dedicated to the The Sharing Economy, and the message is clear: The Sharing Economy isn’t going anywhere. Local players like Drivy & Blablacar, leading the way in Car-sharing in Europe, aren’t the only ones to see Paris as an important market for collaborative consumption – in an interview with Airbnb’s Head of EMEA this morning at the conference, Oliver Grémillon confided that Paris boasts more than 25,000 listings, putting it in the top three cities for Airbnb, alongside London & NYC.
The big topics this week will be around “Phase 2” of the Sharing Economy – maturity brings standardization, and it also embraces Regulation. Panel topics will cover how to structure a collaborative consumption startup (CoOps may be back in style) and how to work with and educate the government. There are also startups exploring new avenues & new segments of the Sharing Economy, “going from ownership to trusteeship.”
The Sharing Economy’s critics have argued that the quick rise is due to the Economic decline, which has been heavy in Europe & the US – “correlation vs. causation” has been the argument of choice from promoters of the Sharing Economy, but as figures come out around topics such as Airbnb’s impact on the Hotel industry, it is becoming clear that this sector is not a trend, but is a new segment of business. Personally, I wouldn’t call it a bubble, because I can’t imagine what is inflating it, and what would deflate should the economy recover in the coming years – I passionately hate Hotels for their impersonal feel, and I don’t think that is a question of price. If anything, pricing around goods will regulate for supply & demand, and Airbnb apartments in Paris cost about as much as Hotels, they are just more available in certain less-touristy areas.
The conference is a great example of France’s ability to leverage its local advantages to product a global conference – I met up with Vayable’s Jamie Wong, who was back in Paris after having temporarily moved her company out here last year in order to get to know her users, who were particularly active in the capital (which makes sense, given Vayable’s positioning as a Peer-to-peer tourist guide marketplace – Paris is among the most visited cities in the world).