{{show_title_date || "Airbnb and the fostering of the sharing economy, 8/12/13, 1:04 PM ET"}}

‘Sharing’ business model under threat?


While a number of start-ups are using a new business model that thrives on loaning services and products to strangers, some more traditional businesses appear to feel threatened.

Airbnb turns homes into bed and breakfast destinations internationally; RelayRides rents cars from a sharing marketplace; and EatWith helps amateur chefs turn their homes into restaurants.

But this so-called “sharing economy” is under threat, the Financial Times reported last week:

Traditional industries have launched regulatory battles with their new competitors, arguing that peer-to-peer home rentals and ride-sharing contravene national and regional laws on housing and transportation. … Clashes…are testing where the boundaries lie between the new companies and trading regulations designed to guarantee quality and safety.

Rooms rented through Airbnb, founded in 2008, are about 20% cheaper than most hotels in U.S. cities.

“Think about the major hotel chains that charge $25 for wireless,”co-host Mika Brzezinski said during Monday’s Afternoon MoJoe roundtable discussion. “There are so many rip-offs that may be put into question now.”

The most important aspect of a business is the relationship between the company’s products or services and people’s needs, said Harold Ford Jr., political analyst and former Democratic congressman. Airbnb boasts more than 4 million guests and 300,000 listings worldwide since its establishment in 2008. Airbnb users can rent spaces in tree houses, castles, caves, tepees…and igloos.

Related: ‘People thought we were absolutely crazy,’ says Airbnb’s founder

“But it really is [these disrupted] companies that somehow understand their existence and environment has changed,” said Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary and msnbc contributor. “If they’re going to continue to be a vibrant company, they’re going to have to compete with people who have new ideas.”

Be sure to watch other web-exclusive interviews and roundtable discussions right here in the Afternoon MoJoe section of the website.

(Found out more about Airbnb):