Fred Wilson over at Union Square Ventures is thinking out loud these days with a post about how the share economy, which includes companies like Airbnb, Sidecar, and RelayRides, will create a new class of assets. Wilson opens with a theory that if and when self driving cars become a reality, whether they will be viewed more as rentable assets that pick people up from their homes and ferry people around, meaning anyone can own them. He’s asking if the way we view car ownership will one day be very different.
Certainly the share economy may one day change the economics of what it means to buy any asset. If you can put a belonging in circulation, “share” it, and generate revenue from that, it changes the economics of buying a car, a home, a tractor, a table saw, a musical instrument, anything. Wilson points to new investment opportunities like lending club that are linking retail investors with income producing investments they ordinarily couldn’t access. We’re seeing this in solar with companies like Solar Mosaic. This is actually going a step further by suggesting that some day we might actually be able to invest in physical assets we fractionally own for the sole purpose of generating income, the way a bond delivers a coupon. Certainly such a system will require trust, verification, insurance and some pretty solid digital platforms to connect investors with assets.