The Sharing Economy Has Created 17 Billion-Dollar Companies (and 10 Unicorns)

There is no doubt that sharing is a huge business. According to Jeremiah Owyang and VB Profiles – a market intelligence firm partly owned by VentureBeat (VB), “currently in the sharing and collaborative economy, there exist companies of 17 billion-dollar with 60,000 workers and $15 billion in funding”. This incorporates both popular and the old eBay which was brought to life during the time when there weren’t much advancement in technology and the comparative new companies like Uber, Etsy, Chegg, WeWork, and Airbnb.

Uber Uber Alles, Right?

A majority of the startups today are comparatively fresh, however, in a short span of time a substantial number of these startups turned to become billion-dollar companies but this wasn’t achieved easily. They have their fair share of hard circumstances.

According to Owyang, “Many of these startups birthed from the trough of the 2008 recession. The startups received unreported friends and family money then got market traction with adoption, and then was able to seek out traditional investors, resulting in the investment boom a few years later.”


 Image Credit: VB Profiles

The collaborative economy companies are differentiated by Owyang in a honeycomb rubric having 12 essential verticals or sections, comprising of the transportation where Uber and Lyft fits, space where Airbnb fits and goods where he placed Etsy and eBay. It is interesting to know that a considerable amount of companies with billion-dollar business are involved in the above three areas. However, there is another area, i.e. money that comprises of TransferWise, LendingClub, FundingCircle and Prosper.


 Image Credit: VB Profiles

There is still time for other spaces to observe any sort of billion-dollar players. This includes the municipal, food, utilities, health, and corporate spaces.

It is even more interesting to know that among the 17 companies, 8 are based in California, while the rest are U.S.-based. Although Owyang states that this preponderance may not last.

Owyang further states that “While these startups are often based in the San Fransisco area, they often serve global national markets. Ola is an India-based ride-sharing company that is well-funded, and existing Chinese tech companies are building their own versions which mean that publicly funded data is unlikely to be surfaced. France’s BlaBlaCar recently received $100 million of funding which they used to purchase a competitor, earning them the title of largest ride-sharing company in Europe.”

Most Unusual Thing About The Space

Around $15 billion of funding has been received by the collaborative or sharing economy which when compared to the entire social networking space is far greater. This is despite that fact that social networking has given birth to huge sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Goggle+ and much more. Now this is more than enough proof the collaborative economy is still in its new stage, and many more billion-dollar companies will be arriving shortly.

However, there is a particular thing these often counter-cultural startups will not perform; completely upend our capitalistic one-percent economy.


 Image Credit: VB Profiles

In case you are wondering among the 17 billion-dollar sharing economy companies, which ones are the 10 “unicorns”; Owyang defines them as the companies that are still private. This includes the following companies

  • Lyft: $2.5B
  • Ola: $1B
  • Uber: $40B
  • Instacart: $2B
  • WeWork: $5B
  • Prosper: $1.7B
  • Kuaidi Dache: $8.8B
  • TransferWise: $1B
  • Airbnb: $10B
  • FundingCircle: $1B

Owyang says that “It’s worth noting that the early hope that this sharing market would foster altruism and a reduction of income inequality can now be refuted. The one percent clearly own the sharing startups, which means this is continued capitalism — not idealistic socialism.”

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