Welcome to the new economy built on sharing

Laplanche started Lending Club in 2007, back when the U.S. economy was heading off a cliff. To the surprise of many, the company has thrived, lending more than a billion-and-a-half dollars so far -- projecting it to reach three billion in the coming year.

Neal Gorenflo told Blackstone he'd actually loaned money to strangers on Lending Club, and received a return, on average, of nine percent.

In 2011, Gorenflo spent a year living as much as he could in the sharing economy, for transportation, travel, child care and more, saving him more than $17,000.

"I think, more importantly, our quality of life got better," he said. "New friendships, learning new things -- feeling more connected to the world in many ways."

He works in a shared office space in San Francisco, publishing a non-profit web-based magazine about sharing, called (what else?) Shareable.

But before you conclude the sharing economy is the sole domain of hip, young urbanites, let us share the story of Peg Powell.

Powell was near retirement when she lost her job in Silicon Valley two years ago. She was faced with the prospect of losing her home. So she leapt into the sharing economy, renting her home on Airbnb, and her car on Getaround.

A room at Powell's goes for $73 a night. And there are amenities: "I did want to mention I also make some awesome pancakes on Saturdays," she laughed.

It harkens back to the days when women in small towns opened boarding houses as a way to make ends meet. "Yeah, it is an old idea brought up-to-date," Powell said.

It turns out, what we all learned as children -- that sharing is good -- is as true today as ever.


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