Publicado na HBR em 02/04/2014
When this column was inaugurated 14 years ago next month, we were asking ourselves whether we had entered the era of the “new economy.” Warren Buffett was telling us that we had not—that real assets, book value, and good brands still mattered—but many didn’t believe him. Now questions are again arising about whether we are about to experience a post-capitalist society centered around the creation and sharing of goods and services that have marginal costs approaching zero.
I was reminded of this by an email from Sam Mayville, who wrote to me after reading that Airbnb, an Internet site connecting people seeking and supplying overnight accommodations, was shooting for a $10 billion valuation. He was curious how an organization with few tangible assets under ownership and very few employees could have a higher market value than the large tech hardware and software company that employs him.
Putting the question of the valuation aside, we have to ask just what impact Airbnb and other organizations like it will have on the economy? How will this affect capitalism as we have known it?
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