The Appeal of Zero Marginal Cost

Yesterday, Jeremy Rifkin was interviewed on KQED and, among other topics, discussed the concept of the “Zero Marginal Cost Society” as it applies to the sharing economy. His argument was that once you pay for something, you’re motivated to share it when that sharing doesn’t cost you anything. One example is the early days of music sharing with Napster, when ripping a CD you had already paid for and sharing it online in return for others sharing their CDs worked so overwhelmingly well.

He also credits the zero marginal cost as one of the reasons for airbnb‘s success. There is no further cost to the listers of the properties to rent out those couches. They’ve already paid their rent/mortgage and bought the furniture for their own use. Their only cost is to launder the sheets.

All this prompted me to look around my home and see what would make sense to share with others when I am not using it. For example, my car sits in my driveway when I’m on vacation. Should I rent it out via RelayRides and Getaround?

So, for what other products can we create the “airbnb of…”

Home improvement & gardening tools: we really need that lawnmower once every two

Go ahead, rent my saw.

Go ahead, rent my saw.

weeks and the drill maybe once a year. These are tools that are easy to share locally.

WiFi: we’re already paying for high speed internet access at home. Why not share part of it and in return get access to a community of WiFi sharers worldwide? A Spanish company, FON, has been trying to do this for a long time.

Clothing: Rent the Runway is doing a great job renting out designer clothing for people who cannot afford the real thing for a single occasion. There are others out there who are working on clothes-sharing. This could work really well for recreational clothing such as snow sports, surfing, diving, fishing. cycling and other activities that require specialized equipment.

Storage space and parking space: what’s your garage doing for you? What’s your driveway doing for you? If you live in the city, where parking is a premium, rent out your parking space. The app will include available spaces near you.

Anything else?


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