The sharing economy – what some consider “collaborative consumption” – has changed the way millions of people live and work. As the sharing economy continues to grow, it’s expected to play a larger role in the economic future, driving change for workers around the world. 

A loose definition of the sharing economy is “the use of technology to facilitate the exchanged access of goods or services between two or more parties.” McKinsey estimates that about 20% to 30% of the global workforce is involved in the sharing economy. 

Where The Share Economy Started 

As far back as 2004, Harvard law professor Yochai Benkler published a paper suggesting that people share goods as part of the economy.  Rachel Botsman followed by co-authoring a book, ”What’s Mine Is Yours,” that  described “collaborative consumption.”  

But the shared economy didn’t really take off until companies started to put the idea into practice. Three of the best-known are Airbnb, Uber and Fiverr. Airbnb and Uber already have a combined market cap of $103 billion. 

Sharing Economy Examples 

These companies are some of the leaders in the sharing economy. All of them have become household names in just the last decade. 


Founded in 2009 by Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick, Uber allows users to find vehicles online for rides in more than 300 cities. Those vehicles are driven by people who make extra money – or in some cases, their primary living – off driving people. Uber expected to bring in $10 billion in revenue in 2016 and is valued at $72 billion.  


Airbnb started as a way for people in San Franciscans to find a place they could afford in a city with notoriously high costs. Airbnb allows people to rent out spaces they own for others to use, much like a private hotel. These can range from one room in a home to an entire condo or house. Airbnb is valued at $31 billion.  


Fiverr is an online marketplace where creative people offer their services at extremely low prices, including just $5. Many companies turn to Fiverr for freelancers, including writers, graphic designers, musicians and coders.  

Effects on the Economy 

The sharing economy has impacted other parts of the economy in a variety of ways. They include the following. 

Increase in Demand  

Now that shared economy services are so readily available, the demand has quickly increased. Uber has led to an interest in working as a for-hire driver. Airbnb had led to a desire for short-term rentals.  

Safety Issues 

The growth of the sharing economy may impact public safety. How liable are Uber and Airbnb for accidents that happen at properties or cars rented on their sites, for example? These issues are ongoing but have created a whole new area for legal actions. 


Many shared economy outlets rely on ratings from online users, but these can easily be “gamed” with fake reviews. On the other side of the coin, it’s relatively easy to sink a person’s reputation with false reviews. It’s a system that still needs refinement. 

Still, the sharing economy has become a staple of the economy over the past decade. For those who aspire to leadership roles in businesses, earning an online business degree can help you achieve your business goals, including work in the sharing economy.