Assets of an American 29-year-old in 1960: a house with a yard, a car, a killer record player.
Assets of an American 29-year-old in 2018: a fold-up bicycle purchased via Craigslist, a laptop, a pair of decent headphones, a smartphone with a cracked screen.
Are you seeing what I'm seeing here? Yes: owning things is so 20th century.
Luckily, a service called Fat Lama will soon eliminate this last bastion of ownership for good.
Fat Lama launched in the United Kingdom two years ago, but it recently raised a substantial $10 million in funding, Business Insider reports, and plans to expand internationally.
The purpose of the site is simple: it allows users to rent and lease "almost anything" — from a classic VW Camper to a high-end drone. The lender charges a small fee for the convenience. The result: renters save time, have access to better stuff, and make a buck on the side.
The so called "sharing economy" — a collaborative system in which a group of peers share access to the same goods and services — has gobbled up almost every aspect of our lives. We get a ride from Uber, ditch hotels for AirBnBs, rent bikes and electric scooters to get around downtown, and event rent office space with the use of an app.
But will we actually benefit from not owning anything, or are we being cheated out of the assets once coveted and revered by our forbearers? Once all the Ubers-of-everything shutter, will we be left naked, alone, unable to maintain a car or screw in a light bulb, devising shelter under a pile of demolished electric scooters?
It's probably fine, honestly. Here are some reasons the sharing economy and Fat Lama are a great thing:
- It frees us from responsibility. For instance, AirBnB's Host Protection Insurance allows you to make liability claims of up to $1 million if somebody were to trash your condo investment. Fat Lama's Lender Insurance claims to insure your stuff up to £25,000 (approx. $35,000).
- Less waste: Why buy a car when you can simply call a Lyft? The same is true for Fat Lama. Simply renting the missing piece of equipment you'll only need over the weekend is not only far cheaper than buying, it means we all consume less — critical as our stressed planet has fewer expendable resources.
Granted, insurance can be fickle. Changing terms of service, uncommon circumstances, and in the event of the startup itself closing down, could mean you fall through the cracks, and end up paying a lot more than you bargained for.
Plus, the sharing economy relies on people being, you know, decent. If people are going to start pooping on shared electric scooters, how are we supposed to trust them with anything else? To share our finite possessions, we're gonna have to get along.
Fat Lama plans to expand to the US in the next couple of years. And it seems like a pretty natural fit. "People in the US are used to monetizing their cars and their houses," CEO Chaz Englander tells Business Insider. "Uber and Airbnb both took off in the U.S. first, so the concept of sharing your property is already really ingrained there."
And the sharing economy as a whole is only growing. Uber recently announced plans to take over even more new transport options. People are even eyeing blockchain technology to fuel the sharing economy of the future.
Indeed, it seems as though we will soon hit peak sharing economy. But we're going to have to get along with our neighbors if it's going to stick.