by Colin Hynson
Uber and Airbnb, the two poster–children of the ‘sharing economy’, have found themselves in the public spotlight for several months. One reason for this is their rapid growth. Uber, an on–demand taxi service, is now operating in 290 cities worldwide, over one million Uber trips are taken daily and the number of new drivers registering with Uber is growing by 50,000 a month. Airbnb, the room–rental service, now has vacancies in over 190 countries and has been used over 35 million times since it started in 2008.
This growth has led to both companies being described as ‘disruptive’. They have come in and shaken up taxi and hotel businesses across the globe. This has led to a backlash. In London and Paris taxi drivers have held rallies protesting that their livelihoods are being threatened. There are also legal challenges as cities from Delhi to Montreal and Brussels have clamped down on both companies.