"Work," by Ford Maddox Brown, 1863
"Work," by Ford Maddox Brown, 1863 (source: Google Art Project on Wikimedia Commons).

O'Reilly's Mac Slocum delves into the economy with two speakers from our recent Next:Economy conference. First, Slocum talks with Leah Busque, founder of TaskRabbit, about service networking, TaskRabbit's goals, and issues facing the peer economy. In the second segment, Slocum talks with Dan Teran, co-founder of Managed by Q, about the on-demand economy and the future of work.

Here are a few highlights from Busque:

As a technologist myself, I became really passionate about how we mash up social and location technologies to connect real people, in the real world, to get real things done. I'd say in the last two years, it's become real time, and that's really the idea about where service networking was born.
It's certainly our job to create a platform where demand is generated so that our tasker community, our suppliers, can find work, but I think even more than that, it is about building a platform and tools for our taskers to build out their own businesses.
I remember in 2008 when the iPhone just came out, people thought it would be crazy to jump in a strangers car and take a ride with someone. People thought it would be crazy to have a neighbor or handyman come into their house and hang shelves, so in the early days, there was a big trust barrier to entry. Now, as the consumer mindset as evolved and changed over the course of the last five, seven, eight years, trust has been able to be bridged utilizing technology and creating trust between users is sort of a challenge that's, of course always going to be and is still there, but it's not the main challenge anymore. I'd say in the last couple of years the consumer mindset has shifted into, 'How can I get something I need—whether it's transportation, goods, or services—in real time?'

Here are a few highlights from Teran:

It's funny, we get that question [about why we opted to go the employee route] a lot. For us, it was a very simple decision. We wanted to provide the best service to our customers, and we found that in order to do that we needed to have the best employees. To have the best employees, we needed to be the best employer, and the only way we could do that was by providing things that you can only do as an employer. Things like training, benefits, career progression. It just didn't make sense for us, really, to be able to deliver at the service level that we wanted, to use contractors.
We're seeing a lot of companies now struggle or go out of business, and it's not really a one-size fits all. Uber has an amazing business model and an amazing business, but the 'Uber for X' paradigm is broken if you blindly apply it to any industry.
I actually had this thought this morning getting out of bed that the on-demand economy is just turning the world into a luxury hotel.

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