Most people in the RISD community have heard the Airbnb story – starring artrepreneurial alums Brian Chesky 04 ID and Joe Gebbia 05 GD/ID – many times. Yesterday, op-ed columnist Thomas Friedman used it as the basis for a great piece in the Sunday New York Times called Welcome to the ‘Sharing Economy’.
Friedman points out that “Airbnb’s real innovation is not online rentals. It’s ‘trust.’ It created a framework of trust that has made tens of thousands of people comfortable renting rooms in their homes to strangers.” [Check out the video in our post from earlier this month to see how the concept works.] And he quotes Chesky as saying:
“It used to be that corporations and brands had all the trust, [but now a total stranger] can be trusted like a company and provide the services of a company. And once you unlock that idea, it is so much bigger than homes…. There is a whole generation of people that don’t want everything mass produced. They want things that are unique and personal.”
Friedman also talks about the growing subculture of sharing, noting that the Airbnb concept has “spawned its own ecosystem – ordinary people who will now come clean your home, coordinate key exchanges, cook dinner for you and your guests,” etc., etc.