Sharing Economy, We-Commerce And The Future Of Business

Billee Howard’s book, WE-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate and Succeed in the Sharing Economy, highlights a world in which culture and commerce collide in ways that are considered unprecedented and an economy driven by entrepreneurialism and creativity. Howard talks about how the sharing economy ushered a variety of micro-economies that enable people to come together and experience luxuries they’ve never experienced before. She makes the argument that millennials, and Gen Z behind them, aren’t interested in owning possessions, but in sharing, borrowing, and using technology to come together and help make the world a better place.


Note – This Interview was originally published at >

Business Artistry

Warhol Passes Baton to Haring To Further Inspire Age of Business Artistry

As we all know, the sharing or “WE” economy, is a socio-economic ecosystem built around the sharing of human, physical and intellectual resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organizations and is heavily reliant upon a few core principles: collaboration, creativity, and a celebration of the type of business artistryinvented by Warhol.

In our current world of WE, creative industries like fashion, art, and music drive the economy as much as—if not more than—finance, real estate, and law. And according to author Elizabeth Currid in her visionary book “The Warhol Way,” these creative industries have been fueled by the societal happenings that whirl around the clubs, galleries, music venues, and fashion shows where creative people meet, network, exchange ideas, pass judgments, and set the trends that shape popular culture.

These counter-intuitive ideas continue to drive our economy forward, and can without question be traced back to the days of Warhol, where the key tenet of culture driven commerce, sparked by collaboration was born. In the days of Andy Warhol’s FACTORY, boundless collaboration became integral to innovation, the worlds of art and business fused together, the POP Art movement consequently arrived…and the seeds of today’s sharing economy were planted.

It is therefore no coincidence, as the era of collaborative creativity has come to take center stage, that the works of Warhol have had a massive resurgence in recent times. Last year, Warhol was the second highest revenue generating artist, behind only Pablo Picasso, with sales totaling $416.5 million.

We have also witnessed an indelible Warhol imprint on culture driven commerce. There was the Perrier Warhol campaign, the Dom Perignon Warhol campaign, and the Absolut Warhol campaign alone in the last few years. And that’s just the beverage industry. NARS cosmetics had a Warhol inspired make up line, and just this past summer, Gucci launched a “meeting Warhol’s ghost in a public toilet” campaign with an eye on revitalizing its brand and making it more accessible. Perhaps they were following suit to their former creative director Tom Ford, who also launched a Warhol inspired campaign for his line three years ago.

And it didn’t stop there. Brands across the land also took a less literal interpretation to fusing the Warholian lens of collaboration and craftsmanship to invite consumer engagement and to spotlight his idea of everyone having a chance to be famous for 15 minutes.

There was the Lincoln rebrand around artisan automobiles and the Lays consumer innovation driven DO ME A FLAVOR campaign. There was also the explosion of Factory-esque sharing platforms in the workplace like We-Works, Office Nomads and Icehouse.

As I said in my book We-Commerce, we have entered a Warholian age of creative commerce driven by culture, where we are consequently being pushed to emerge as “artists of business” if we are to stand out and succeed. We without question live in a world which increasingly rewards collaborating around the idea of art + commerce = innovation, and are being forced to agilely adapt as a result.

In my book, there is a chapter entitled “Become An Artist of Business” where I explore these ideas and mention that other disciples (past and present) of the “Warhol Way” will soon begin to flood the landscape as proof of this concept and as the age of all things Andy reaches a critical saturation point.

One of the artists I flag that this would most likely happen with was Keith Haring, and as 2016 comes to a close, the era of sharing or “Haring” could not be more evident.

Haring took the idea of art + commerce equaling innovation to the next level honing in on the notions of accessibility and purpose. He opened the first ever Pop Shop in the 1980s in Soho to make his drawings available to everyone. Pop up shops by leading brands as disparate as e-Bay and Warby Parker have flooded the landscape for the last several years and show no sign of abating anytime soon, as winning brands seek to make their offerings available to all through one of a kind experiences that “pop.”

Haring also pre-dated acclaimed graffiti bandit Banksy with his underground subway scrawlings, seeking to make his art accessible, but to also showcase the power of visual imagery in conveying influential messages. In a world where images clearly trump words everywhere we look from Instagram to Emojis, Haring’s influence is palpable. Snapchat, perhaps the king of visual imagery, which recently rebranded itself as just Snap, even just released its Spectacles glasses product designed solely to help consumers capture and share unique visual imagery.

Haring used his one of a kind visual communication to imbue a sense of activism around critical societal issues like drugs and AIDS. There was the infamous Crack is Wack series and the memorable Stop Aids collection.

As I highlight in We-Commerce, this influence can be seen taking shape in the new age of business, with companies of all shapes and size, and across all industries, demonstrating the need to act with a sense of purpose each and every day, not just around sustainability or philanthropy efforts. Using commerce to instill purpose and not just profit is ubiquitous today and clearly mimics Haring’s use of art to activate meaningful change.

Pepsi pioneered this idea over a decade ago with its critically acclaimed Refresh platform, and we see these concepts at work everywhere today from GM partnering with Lyft to advance the age of autonomous vehicles, to brands like Tom’s Shoes and Salesforce innovating and disrupting around the 1:1 give back model, where portions of profits are immediately put back into the world to do good.

Keith Haring’s art was auctioned for a record price this year, hitting the $4.2 million mark for one piece at a Sotheby’s event this summer. If we continue to play out the Warhol influence paradigm, perhaps this is a clear indication that our world of creativity, collaboration and purpose has only just begun.

Business Artistry

cc – proudlyyours

I for one hope it is a clear harbinger of the era of “artists of business“ meaningfully  taking hold. An era of commerce where creativity, sharing and a sense of worthwhile contribution, set the bar on what true innovation, profitability and leadership could, and should, really look like.

As Keith once famously said, “The public needs art – and it is the responsibility of a ‘self-proclaimed artist’ to realize that the public needs art, and not to make bourgeois art for a few and ignore the masses.”

Today maybe, just maybe, we can all continue to extend that notion to business and entrepreneurialism, using the age of sharing or “Haring,” and the artistry of business driving it, to realize the vision of us all being better in the service of the collective we over the singular me.

Read an excerpt from We-Commerce on “Becoming an Artist of Business” in Time magazine’s Motto here:

Billee Howard is Founder + Chief Engagement Officer of Brandthropologie, a cutting edge communications collective specializing in identifying the most powerful collision point of culture and commerce for each client to create captivating stories that are consumed, shared and drive meaningful and measurable engagement. Billee is a veteran communications executive in brand development, trend forecasting, strategic media relations, and C-suite executive positioning. She has a book dedicated to the study of the sharing economy called WeCommerce released in December 2015 as well as a blog entitled the The Brandthropologist ( dedicated to curating the trends driving our economy forward. She is also a regular contributor to Forbes and HuffPo on the topics of marketing, storytelling and the collaborative economy.

Collaborative Economy

Collaborative Economy Paves The Way To New Era of Collaborative Purpose

The sharing or collaborative economy is growing daily around the world and quickly morphing into a recognized driver of purpose as much as democratized access and convenience.

As the eras of purposeful business and sharing collide, the impact has been massive and far-reaching. By combining the core tenets of profiting with purpose with the new notions of trust and borrowing vs. ownership the collaborative economy is based upon, the global business landscape is experiencing a groundswell shift as powerful as the one felt in the days of the Industrial Revolution.

As this movement continues to evolve, we are seeing the new economy positively impact all walks of society including: innovation, economic development, equity, safety and implementation. Examples of this are rampant as both cities and emerging market regions around the world seek to harness the awesome mettle of this new economic engine to drive meaningful growth, development, transformation and collective purpose.

This is a refreshing twist as for far too long the power of collaborative consumption and its groundbreaking innovation has been relegated largely to the topics of ride and home sharing. The far greater opportunity to view the sharing economy as a massive economic shift that is positively altering the way we live work and play and impacting areas as far ranging as urbanization and sustainability, has unfortunately been mostly overlooked.

Over the last two years or so positive examples of collaborative purpose have been slowly emerging. In the United States, Etsy’s Craft Entrepreneurship programs in New York City, Chicago, Dallas, Newark and Santa Cruz give new life to public-private collaboration and allow first-hand exposure to new business models. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge is proposing to apply sharing economy principles in different ways to help imbue new energy and innovation into the region. In Asia, Seoul’s Society 3.0has supported dozens of resident-led sharing initiative with public funding and other resources, with the primary goal of boosting community connectedness trust and purposeful collaboration.

As recently as this month, the models of collaborative purpose have only become more striking and powerful. For example, the sharing economy is gradually coming to more and more aspects of African life, including home cleaning and ridesharing. Now, Ghanaian startup Swiftly is taking it into the shipping space.

sharing economy

Launched earlier this year, Swiftly matches people with goods to ship with spare space in containers, whether being sent by sea, air or land. Chief executive officer (CEO) Edem Dotse told Disrupt Africa this month that the service has benefits in terms of both the cost of shipping goods and protecting the environment.

“It is just wasteful when someone has to ship a half full container by sea, or a half full package by air, or hire a delivery truck or van without fully utilizing the space,” Dotse said.

The opportunity for purposeful collaboration in Africa, the world’s fastest growing economy is massive.  The elements highlighted by local providers – access to more work opportunities in struggling employment markets, and a pre-existing culture of sharing assets – may contribute to the fact that on-demand services have encountered limited opposition in Africa to date and will likely continue to flourish without abatement. This is a trend likely to continue in similar emerging markets around the world.

Another great recent example of purposeful sharing is UK based start up OLIO.  OLIO connects neighbors with each other and local shops so that food can be shared instead of thrown away. They are trying to reduce food waste which is a huge problem in the UK and globally (50% of the  £10 billion of good food wasted in the UK/year comes from the home). They currently have over 55,000 users, and have been used over 200,000 times to share surplus food.

In our emerging world of placing the “we” over the “me,” the collaborative purpose movement in business is just another example of the awesome power of We-Commerce and proof of the longevity and transformative power of our new economy. OLIO’s mission statement perhaps describes what our new world is about best: “Small collective actions can lead to big change.”

Billee Howard is Founder + Chief Engagement Officer of Brandthropologie, a cutting edge communications collective specializing in helping organizations and individuals to produce innovative, creative and passionate dialogues with target communities, consumers and employees, while blazing a trail toward new models of artful, responsible, and sustainable business success. Billee is a veteran communications executive in brand development, trend forecasting, strategic media relations, and C-suite executive positioning. She has a book dedicated to the study of the sharing economy called WeCommerce released in December 2015 as well as a blog entitled the #HouseofWe dedicated to curating the trends driving our economy forward. She is also a regular contributor to Forbes on the topics of marketing, storytelling and the collaborative economy.

Note: This article first appeared on Billee’s Huffingtonpost page.

sharing economy trends

2016 Sharing Economy Trends: The Experts Weigh In

 The sharing economy has exploded over the last year with big businesses like Hyatt and GM getting into the game, and pioneers of the movement like Uber and Airbnb achieving valuations in the billions.

What’s even more interesting is the idea that sharing is not just driving commerce but also culture. We see this everywhere from the co-creation of products by companies and consumers, to the new platform driven ecosystems that are driving tomorrow’s innovation, like GE’s Industrial Internet model Predix.

It seems fair consequently to say that we have undeniably entered an age of collaborative consumption and We-Commerce, once which is not a trend or fad, but rather vital economic engine powering our future.

Following is a compendium of thoughts from top collaborative economy experts on what to expect in the weeks and months ahead.

1 – Billee Howard: @MashupTweet

The sharing economy will continue to explode but will move away from the notion of “altruism” to profiting for the many and not the few. We will see a continued push towards sharing business ecosystems that embrace the we instead of the me and provide value and benefit to the communities they operate in as a whole.

This idea of businesses benefiting themselves, the consumers they serve, and local people seeking freelance employment, will become more evident and an obvious sign of the permanence of our new Uber X economy.

The sharing economy will also continue to identify new untapped pockets of opportunity that can benefit from sharing and also potentially serve a greater or “social” purpose. Nimber which seeks to facilitate the ability to transport and deliver cargo of all shapes and sizes based on currently available “unused” space is a great example of this trend. It is also offers great insight into the type of offerings we will see a maturing sharing economy crank out in the weeks and months ahead.

2 – Jeremiah Owyang: @jowyang

Funding by VCs will continue to increase, but the rate will slow compared to 2015’s glut of money. Startups need to fill their war chest for global adoption, acquisition and to influence regulatory bodies. Last year, in 2015, funding was a whopping $14B, up from $8B in 2014. This means that the one percenters will continue to take ownership stakes in the popular global sharing tech platforms. In 5-10 years, they’ll need their money returned, forcing monetization of the platform, people, and products shared.

With this said, we’ll start to see a shakeout of these platforms that are unable to contend with the highly funded players. Additionally, these highly funded tech startups are spreading into other sectors and domains: Airbnb will move into home automation, and Uber and Lyft are gearing up for self-driving fleets, further displacing workers, and I’d expect on-demand home delivery services to experiment with drones. Or course, this means “gig workers” and freelancers are further displaced by powerful tech platforms, and robots who can do the job better, faster, cheaper –without threat of worker’s comp lawsuits.

3 – Rob van de Star: @RobvandeStar @Croqqer

The Sharing Economy is becoming mainstream, though the majority of the users are still the highly educated people – the top of the social pyramid. Governments and city councils regulate this sector more and more with a positive mindset, as has happened in a.o. France, UK, Amsterdam and is planned for in Italy allowing a growing under utilized workforce of micro-entrepreneurs to enter the Sharing Economy. This alongside and as part of a steadily growing debate on providing people a ‘basic income’. Sharing Economy companies will be linked and measured to their Social Impact as a Benefit Corporation. This ‘social enterprise’ entity is now also legalized as a BCorp outside the US in Italy and quickly spreading in Europe.

Airbnb will segment its policies in ‘buy-for-rent’ and ‘micro-entrepreneur’ homeowners. Uber shareholders will start to understand that their nowadays business on the long term will be taken over by providers of self-driven cars. Facebook and Google wil enter the Sharing Economy arena. APIs to link content of sharing platforms to other (incumbent) platforms will grow creating a demand for standardization and ‘mobile-first’ will be the way to go to develop a sales and contact channel. Tech platforms continue to learn that building a brand is not the same as developing a platform.

4 – Benita Matofska: @benitamatofska

The emergence of the Real Sharing Economy — a system built around the sharing of resources with social purpose at the heart: this year we will see more mission driven companies, social enterprises develop apps / products and services that serve people and planet. These companies will develop new types of organisations where power and value are shared, where people and planet benefit. Charity involvement – we’ll also see growing charity engagement in the Sharing Economy – where large, established charities and nonprofits as well as smaller ones, develop Sharing Economy products and services. We’ll also see more applications of the SE in the developing world and used during crises.

Discovery and Mainstreaming — the SE isn’t mainstream yet, but this year will see an opening up of the SE with many millions more people discovering and engaging in it. Initiatives like Global Sharing Week via which runs from June 5th-11th reached over 100 million people around the world last year and this year expects to reach over 150 million.Corporate Engagement & Business of Sharing — the SE is becoming the most significant business trend, changing the way companies operate. 2016 will see more large companies engaging in the SE and more data demonstrating the economic value and significant profits generated by doing so. Businesses will also recognise the social and environmental value of SE approaches.

5 – John Chang: @iamjohnchang

Let’s be clear, there are differences in what sharing and on-demand vs. gig economy is about. I believe in an Sharing Economy such as Uber, and Airbnb as it truly trumps the norm and disrupts the major industries. It can be said, it gives consumers more power to choose. Sharing is such things as sharing a car, or home, or renting out certain properties. That’s what truly sharing is. The On-Demand Economy is a separate animal and this is where I do most of my research.

The on-demand economy, Uber for “X” models entrepreneurs is hot right now, but we will see a cooling off period later this year, as venture capitalists will invest more in platform based models. Companies like thumbtack with its characteristics will do better by far than say, Wag, Numi, Pikkup, etc. Very niche particular services in theory and concept is great. Consumer behavior isn’t picking up the model. These companies have / will burn through their capital and much harder to get series A round, if that. We will see companies like door dash, and food delivery suffer as well. It’s very simple, the on-demand economy can only work with people as workers. Workers according to JPMorgan Chase Co., on the on demand economy shows that workers only supplement up to $500 in lost income. This means they are not moving up to middle class they are staying where they are and not making significant or notable lifestyle changes.

John chang sharing economy

Recruiting workers will continue to be challenge for companies, and they will have to burn through a lot of “signup”. OnDemand/Sharing Economy will disrupt Linkedin, Yelp. See my article here: (think of the aging population and the millenials who don’t even touch Linkedin. it’s a paradigm shift from industrial age thinking to the new age. These young folks can’t stand corporate jobs.

Conclusion: in 20 years we won’t have a sharing economy let alone on-demand economy if entrepreneurs continue to find niche models purely for business/profit basis. We have to come up with solutions that advance humanity for this space to grow.

6 – Alex Stephany: @alexmstephany

I just returned from a trip to the most beautiful rat-infested mess in the world, New York City. I was there to meet a bunch of interesting startups but one of the most interesting insights came from an Uber driver. He had recently joined a new ridesharing platform: Juno. Juno’s USP is simply that it will treat its drivers well. Founded by ex-Viber founder, Talmon Marco, it promises to charge less than half the commission of Uber and to reserve 50% of the company stock for the drivers. My Uber driver was being paid $50 a week to keep the Juno app open until its official launch and told me all his driver friends are signing up. Uber should not underestimate the fickleness of its drivers. Almost all will jump ship the moment they can earn an easier dollar elsewhere. The vast majority of sharing economy marketplaces live and die by the quality and quantity of their supply. 2016 will be the year that the supply side of these marketplaces flexes its muscles, gets more organized, and wins more concessions than ever before. Many of these concessions relate to the classification of workers as contractors rather than employees. Currently, independent contractors do not get a minimum wage, health insurance benefits, workers’ compensation or any unemployment benefits.

alex sharing economy

No question – sharing economy workers enjoy a flexibility that is unknown to regular employees. However, concessions to these workers will arrive across the sharing economy this year as a result of class actions and negotiations with the platforms. Last year Shyp agreed to make its delivery workers employees. Then this January, while confirming that its drivers remain independent contractors, Lyft agreed to roll out benefits such as greater protection from deactivation by Lyft and the right to arbitration. A class action of Uber drivers is also pushing for employee rights from Uber and goes to court in June.
Some of the improved conditions for these workers will come top-down from legislators who will begin to take action to protect this class of worker. Indeed, there’ll be a growing school of thought that a third class of worker is required: a contractor who is tied overwhelmingly to one company and deserves a limited form of the protections that full-time employees enjoy. And what of the US election this November that may set the regulatory agenda in the sharing economy for the rest of the world? With a Republican in the White House, many of the low-wage illegal immigrants may be deported, forcing up scarcity of low-skilled labour and thus their leverage. And with a Democrat, new labour rights and unionisation may ensue – Hillary Clinton has already been outspoken about the vulnerability of many sharing economy workers. We live in interesting times.

7 – Esther Martos: @esther_prague

The sharing economy is becoming a real alternative to traditional systems. In this time in which more than ever societies need to rethink their way of consuming, collaborative markets bring an interesting way of exchange and the reuse of existing things. In this 2016 I augur and important progressive change based on new technologies and online features that will facilitate the use of p2p platforms. For instance, Facebook is constantly adding new settings to allow users to buy and sell things, exchange knowledge etc. From a social network to an online market place.

In addition, in the following years we will see a much more connected sharing economy. That means a huge open network in which known web pages as LinkedIn, tweeter, Facebook will engage in certain way p2p platforms performing an important part on it. As we can see nowadays it is common to log in via Facebook, find the nearest shared car via Google Maps or pay via Bitcoin. That will be increased along the next years.

Also, the fact the social networks, journals, events, conferences, articles and many other resources are spreading the voice is becoming an important booster.

I am just worried about legitimization and legal concerns, governments and traditional markets are placing many barriers in order to slow down the sharing economy. Many persons see this new economy as the way to dodge taxes, something that in my opinion, gives it a not so good reputation. I see the sharing economy as the result of innovation without permission. (something that I personally find very interesting) I hope that in this year, governments, organizations and professionals will come together aiming to legitimize the good practices of the Sharing Economy, (the planet will appreciate it)

8 – Andrew Carlone: @LiveCoralLife

On-demand apps are a compliment to peer-to-peer platforms. While living in Airbnb’s for 100 days straight, Lyft, Instacart, and WeWork allowed us to explore new cities each month while being productive.

There is a small but growing community of digital nomads who live and work all over the world. The quality of life is higher and monthly expenses are lower. Companies like Automattic ($1.16B) has 250 full-time across 35 countries, and 190 cities and 1 in 5 Americans work from home.

As more Millennials join the workforce, the convergence of on-demand apps and peer-to-peer platforms will make location independence more accessible. Regulation will take shape after a few major cities lay down model legislation. On-demand apps and the Sharing Economy are here to stay.

Billee Howard is Founder + Chief Engagement Officer of Brandthropologie, a cutting edge communications consulting firm specializing in helping organizations and individuals to produce innovative, creative and passionate dialogues with target communities, consumers and employees, while blazing a trail toward new models of artful, responsible, and sustainable business success. Billee is a veteran communications executive in brand development, trend forecasting, strategic media relations, and C-suite executive positioning. She has a book dedicated to the study of the sharing economy called WeCommerce released in December 2015 as well as a blog entitled the #HouseofWe dedicated to curating the trends driving our economy forward. You can read more about “WE-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy” right here!