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Like Couchsurfing, except the platform uses a currency of "nights" to weed out freeloaders
A lot of the sharing economy isn’t actually about sharing. But some companies are trying to change that.
NightSwapping, a French company with a new spin on peer-to-peer home sharing, has closed a new two million Euro round of funding (approximately $2.2 million) from several investors, including 6ème Sens Participation, the Duval Group, investment bank BPI, and angels. To date, the company has closed four million Euro.
On NightSwapping, hosts can open up their spare bedroom or entire home for a night or multiple night to traveling guests. Doing so earns the host “nights” that they can then use to stay at other members’ places. It’s like Couchsurfing, except that it uses a currency of “nights” to make sure members are sharing their spaces as much as they are sharing the spaces of others. In other words, it doesn’t want a bunch of freeloaders.
Taking a lesson from Airbnb horror stories, NightSwapping ensures potential property damage and physical injuries up to 450,000 Euro (about $504,000). The company claims to already have 180,000 members in 160 countries, but I’ve reached out to confirm it’s actually live internationally. By 2018, it hopes to reach one million members. (For reference, Couchsurfing says it has 12 million members and Airbnb says it has over two million listings and 60 million guests.)
The company says it plans to use its new funding to continue expanding in Western Europe while also developing the offering on the American continent.
“We're glad to have found the financial support we need to help us carry out our ambitions,” said Serge Duriavig, founder and CEO of NightSwapping, in a prepared statement. “This will allow us to durably install this new, authentic and budget-friendly way of staying with locals as a new marketplace in the travel industry."
Though Uber and Airbnb are the multibillion-dollar names at the forefront of the sharing economy, the two companies (and similar ones) have in a sense coopted the movement to make it more about corporate-sponsored profit-sharing as opposed to peer-to-peer asset-sharing.
For example, Airbnb lets homeowners rent out spare bedrooms to travelers for a price, of which Airbnb takes a small cut for facilitating the transaction. On the other end of the spectrum is Couchsurfing, which simply provides the platform for people to network with each other when seeking places to stay while traveling. That’s literal “sharing.”
NightSwapping is closer to the Couchsurfing side of the sharing economy spectrum since there’s no exchange of money.
Carrying this spectrum over to the ridesharing world, sitting somewhere between NightSwapping and Airbnb/Uber we would find RideAustin, a company hoping to fill the ridesharing void left behind by Uber and Lyft in Austin. Drivers on that platform do make money for giving rides, but the company says they earn more than Uber or Lyft drivers since the company isn’t beholden to investors (and therefore isn’t obliged to rake in big profits). OpenRide, a platform for long-distance carpooling where drivers don’t make profit, would inch us back closer to the Couchsurfing side of the spectrum.
In any case, it will be interesting to see how all these different models evolve in the coming years.
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Airbnb.com is the “Ebay of space.” The online marketplace allows anyone from private residents to commercial properties to rent out their extra space. The reputation-based site allows for user reviews, verification, and online transactions, for which Airbnb takes a commission. As of June, 2009, the San Francisco-based company has listings in over 1062 cities in 76 countries.