Silicon Valley technology helps power new ‘sharing economy’

Original post by Dana Hull via MercuryNews

Looking for a place to stay, dinner to go, or a car to drive? A new economy is emerging in the Bay Area and around the country with a different, more convenient and often cheaper way to find what you need: sharing.

A wide array of local startups are angling to make a business out of matching those who have with those who need. There’s Airbnb, which helps travelers rent out spare futons or rooms from private parties and has emerged as a popular alternative to hotels. Getaround and RelayRides make it possible to rent cars like “Jimmy’s Toyota” in Mountain View for $8 an hour. When dog owners go on vacation, they can use DogVacay to find a host willing to take Fido into their own home.

The goods and services being bought and sold are familiar, but the way the marketplaces work is brand new. Location-based technology in smartphones often makes it possible to find what you need in your immediate neighborhood. And social media offer reviews from fellow users, creating a community of trust around the transaction.