Drawing on her business success, Internet entrepreneur and internationally respected transport expert Chase details how digital infrastructure can be used to organize excess capacity and generate profit in service businesses.
In 2000, the author co-founded Zipcar, a pioneering Web-based company that rents cars by the hour. The company provided on-demand auto availability for people who did not want to rent by the day or assume ownership of an asset they would only use a small fraction of the time—perfect for New York and other metropolises. Subsequently, ride-sharing (her own Buzzcar, taxi services like Uber) and apartment rental businesses (Airbnb) were added to the mix. Chase and other innovators have defined market potentials and developed them into significant moneymaking ventures. First, the author established that people are prepared to share goods like automobiles, if the economics make sense; second, that a wireless-enabled Web infrastructure makes sharing easy; and third, that people can be trusted. More generally, Chase understood that she needed to build a company with a per-rental transaction cost of as close to zero as possible. Public investment in the Internet provided the pre-existing platform that could support the application and was paid for by the users’ payments to their service providers. Furthermore, digital mapping has helped to make these apps successful. Cost reductions are among the many public benefits that follow. Chase discusses these effects and argues that social benefits be transformed into rights of citizenship, not just linked to increasingly changeable employment. She resurrects an older idea for a guaranteed income for all, and in this way, she answers Craig Lambert's Shadow Work (2015) and the concerns he raises about the loss of starter jobs to the digital economy
A provocative discussion of how public investment and private entrepreneurship can combine to shape future advantages from existing used and unused capacities.