RecruitiFi, Uber, Airbnb, & Quirky on the Sharing Economy (Video)

Norm Clausen on October 2, 2014 11:55:00 AM EDT

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Executives from RecruitiFi, Uber, Airbnb & Quirky define the modern sharing economy, discussing the benefits and the disruption of current marketplaces as the model shifts into B2B territory.

Brin McCagg - CEO & Founder, RecruitiFi
Josh Mohrer - NY GM, Uber
Wrede Petersmeyer - NY GM, Airbnb
Doreen Lorenzo - President, Quirky

Spencer Ante - Founder, WhoWeUse


The Future of the Sharing Economy

Full Transcript:

Spencer Ante (WhoWeUse):
As you can see, we’ve got an amazing list of panelists today, hailing from the world’s leading technology startups, who are also pioneers in the sharing economy. So that’s pretty cool.

I think it’s a great time to be talking about the sharing economy right now because it’s no longer a new and unproven idea. It’s reached a level of maturity driven by massive consumer adoption of these services. Reports indicate that the two most valuable privately held tech startups in the world are actually from the sharing economy. Uber is number one, which is worth $18 billion reportedly, and Airbnb is worth $10 billion—you can ask them about that later if you want!

Defining the Sharing Economy

Wrede Petermeyer (Airbnb):
I describe [the sharing economy] in two different ways. The first is a bit of a narrative. Cities used to be villages, where people worked a trade or had a small business that was local and everyone knew everyone. Then we had the industrial revolution, and after WWII, everything became mass-produced. Cities became more isolated, nobody knew anybody anymore, and now, thanks to technology, people are able to make person-to-person connections and build personal brands. And we actually think the cities of the future will be closer to the villages of the past—where people are microentrepreneurs, where space is used as space is needed, and things are as localized as possible.”

If that definition doesn’t appeal to you, the second one would be: the average power drill is used for 13 minutes in its lifetime. The question is—do you need a power drill or do you just need a couple of holes drilled?

That’s a rhetorical, philosophical question.

Josh Mohrer (Uber):
Is Airbnb getting into power drills? Are you announcing that right now?”

[Audience laughter]


Market Advantages of the Sharing Economy

Josh Mohrer (Uber):
Here’s what I think is in common with all the companies up here, technology makes things cheaper. So there was a time when owning printed books meant you were super, super-rich. You had someone write you a book. That’s awesome, you must be very, very wealthy. Or getting a car was very expensive and not in the hands of most people. So then technology comes along and invents the printing press and the assembly line.

I think what you see now is that there are good narratives for what we do, and that’s great for press, but the reality is that staying in an Airbnb is cheaper than staying at [a hotel chain] because the [hotel chain] is overpriced and has an unfair monopoly on lodging in this city. I’m from here, I’ve never stayed in a hotel here, but I understand that they’re like $400-$500 a night. That’s crazy. An Airbnb on the Upper West Side on Central Park West is going to be $150 a night and it’s a better experience, but it’s actually about the cost.

Having a recruiter full time in your business—we got one 4 months ago. We’ve been doing this for 4 years, and we got one 4 months ago. We had one recruiter for all of Uber everywhere and we’re like, well we’re pretty big now, we should get one. So, for most companies, recruitment as a service is awesome, because you don’t want a full time one, you just want one while you need one.

If you have a really good idea, you have to go and get it patented, which is a bunch of bullshit, or pay some company to do a prototype, and it’s like crazy. Most people have ideas, but they don’t ever act on them because they’re too expensive. So Quirky comes along and is like, “Hey we’ll take your good idea and make it—whether that’s an air conditioner, or a cool power strip, or whatever.”

Or Uber, it’s like maybe you don’t actually have to have a car anymore. Maybe we’ll just drive you around, and that’s a thing that only really rich people used to get to do and now everyone can do it because there’s Uber X and it’s cheap and it’s awesome. Like I said, I’m from here, and I never used to take a taxi. That’s just not what my family did. And now I take Uber all the time, because it’s cheap—it’s cheaper than a cab.

Spencer Ante (WhoWeUse):
Isn’t it free for you?

[Audience laughter]

The Sharing Economy’s Transition into B2B

Brin McCagg (RecruitiFi):
Well, I think we’re the company that’s in the B2B space. So following in the footsteps of these great brands, there’s not that many companies that have taken the sharing economy model into the B2B space that we know of. I think we’re one of the first. But I think the opportunity is frankly probably bigger, because there’s a tremendous amount of inefficiency. And having been a customer of Uber and Airbnb, I see the value proposition. In fact, I came up with the idea riding in an Uber car about a year ago for RecruitiFi.

In recruiting, there’s so much wasted capacity. Companies out there—their HR departments are just spending endless amounts of time trying to find candidates, and recruiters are spending endless amounts of time sourcing candidates and then placing a very small percentage of them. So, getting the word out and closing that inefficiency gap—there’s going to be a lot of value opportunity there for us and for other companies in general in the business side of the shared economy.

I think we’re very much at the inception stage of this whole shared economy. And definitely on the business side we’re very much in the inception stage.


Disrupting Traditional Markets

Brin McCagg (RecruitiFi):
In our industry there’s a lot of traditional sourcing methods—there’s job boards, there’s traditional recruiting, there’s recruiting process outsourcing companies, and we’re really disrupting those.

We’re the first mover in our category. So far, there aren’t any competitors. There are a bunch of companies starting to poke their heads up, but none have come out with a working platform like ours. So, we’re just going to run as fast as these guys have run, [points to Josh and Wrede as audience chuckles] and hopefully stay ahead of the competition.


Doreen Lorenzo (Quirky):
Well, I think competition is the greatest thing you can have in a business, it’s the best thing you can do, otherwise you get stale, you get fat, you get slow.

[Audience chuckles]

And you get really complacent, which is like—okay, who can beat me? The best thing that can happen is a competitor enters the space and you go, “Oh shit! I’ve gotta do something.” And you think, and they’re going straight and you make a right turn, and that’s the best thing that could happen.


[Event Sponsored by U.S. Trust, Cooley, LLP, and TriNet]