In the wake of the 2008 crash we have seen a number of truly innovative business models emerge. Some truly revolutionary, such as Airbnb, Uber, and Kickstarter and some more evolutionary such as Spotify, Pintrest, and Tumblr. All of them are changing business and the lives we lead. For the many things going wrong in the world today, one must take heart in the innovation which continues to bubble up from deep inside the human spirit.
The drive to create, to achieve, and yes, to make some sweet cash is as alive as it has ever been.
But if there is one underlying trend I feel in the marketplace right now it is that consumers increasingly value their time and perhaps more specifically, people want value in their time. The tolerance for bad service and low quality products is much less than in the past because the consumer economy has fundamentally changed. When people part with their money, money which for many is much more dear than it was 5 years ago, people want quality. Time is money and money is time and more everyday people have come to understand this truth.
People want to watch good TV (when they watch it, which they do less these days). People want to eat good food. They want to be free from arbitrary restrictions which limit their choices. They want to live consciously. They want quality of product and experience.
People have always wanted good service and high quality goods, but the market for information is much more fluid these days than it was in the past. Smartphones have made voting with one’s dollar a reality. And it’s a vote which actually means something.
Free markets and free prices mean new ideas and innovation is brought to the everyday person. In a highly regulated crony capitalist system (which has not won the day yet, and hopefully will be turned back) such innovation is suppressed because powerful connected companies and politicians can freeze out new and more creative players. Free markets benefit everyday people. Highly regulated markets (though sold as a method by which society is “protected” from industry) are the friend of the established powers that be.
Kings don’t like free markets. Kings don’t like innovation (that doesn’t benefit them).
And kings come in many different forms these days.
Even the venerable New York Times has gotten in on the Airbnb action, though the old guard of the fifth estate just had to use the word “illegal” in its headline about Airbnb profits, didn’t it? Leslie made $90,000 in a year and Joe $2,000 a month, and according to the New York Attorney General’s office, the top 40 Airbnb hosts in New York have each grossed at least $400,000 over the past three years, a collective total of more than $35 million. The top 100 hosts in that time period have grossed $54 million.