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Neither inflation nor a global pandemic can stop the gig economy, it seems.
In fact, we’re using Uber and Airbnb more than ever in 2022, defying predictions that the sharing economy would collapse in the age of Covid.
Here’s the deal: it’s the summer of sharing… and jostling. Do you own an item? There’s probably a market for people who will pay to borrow it. Your house, your car, your boat and even your swimming pool can become a lucrative asset if you are willing to rent it out. And it looks like both supply and demand are strong:
- Airbnb saw 103.7 million bookings between April and June, a new quarterly record and a 24% jump from the same period in 2019, reports my colleague Julia Horowitz.
- Uber, whose core ride-sharing business all but collapsed in 2020, brought in more than $8 billion in revenue last quarter, about double what it did a year ago. The number of consumers and drivers using Uber is “at record highs,” the company said.
At this point, Uber and Airbnb are the old guard of the gig economy – disruptors that have become establishments and inspired a whole new class of like-minded startups that have thrived in the age of Covid.
- Take Swimply, a sort of Airbnb for swimming pools, which has welcomed more than 150,000 bookings on its platform this year, compared to just 800 in 2019, a spokeswoman told Axios this week.
- Boatsetter, a platform connecting boat owners with boat enthusiasts, announced this week that it has raised $38 million in new funding as it seeks to expand into new markets.
Two forces underpin (pun intended) these undertakings, and neither is particularly uplifting:
- it’s hot. Like, in a kind of “the planet is overheating”. Everyone is just trying to cool off, and those who can afford it will pay for the privilege of a refreshing swim.
- The inventory of boats and houses has decreased during the pandemic. Now, with inflation eating away at discretionary income, people who splurged on the 20-foot pontoon boat or the more expensive home with a pool in the back may be feeling a bit of buyer’s remorse.
(Side note: Somewhat surprisingly, reports Julia, all that Uber-ing and going out to eat and rent vacation homes isn’t translating into a rebound for dating apps. The CEO of Match Group, which owns Tinder, Hinge and OkCupid, said that “while people have generally moved past lockdowns and into more normal lifestyles, their willingness to try online dating products for the first time has yet to return to normal levels. pre-pandemic”.)
BOTTOM LINE: The gig economy was born as much of necessity as of desire. Not to beat a dead horse, but, uh, millennials pretty much gave a damn about the homeownership dream, let alone the second homeownership dream or the Let’s Get a Boat dream. As a result, we don’t value property the way our parents did. We share because that’s how we got away with it. Dare I say we are a less authoritative generation as a result…
The pandemic may have dampened the heat of the gig economy (figuratively speaking, anyway), but as we emerge with our vaccines to mingle again and distract ourselves from the collapsing world, sharing is benevolent.
The world’s oil-exporting nations have agreed to a tiny production increase next month of around 100,000 barrels per day. It’s a largely symbolic gesture – a nod from Saudi Arabia to President Joe Biden, who pleaded with OPEC to pump more oil and help bring prices down. The Saudis just said OK, Joe, here’s your oil thimble, now go.
Key quote: “It’s so little that it doesn’t make sense,” an analyst at Eurasia Group told Reuters. “As a political gesture, it’s almost insulting.”
Yesterday, an obscure Hong Kong-based company listed on the New York Stock Exchange saw its shares soar 126% in a single day. Not bad…
But for a company that went public less than three weeks ago, it was just the latest in a skyrocketing stock market that even its executives couldn’t explain.
In less than a month, shares of AMDD Digital soared about 21,000% from $7.80 each to $1,679. If you’re feeling deja vu, you’re not alone…
Here’s the deal: the Reddit army is back in action, it seems.
AMTD Digital is a company you’ve probably never heard of. The company is a branch of AMDD Idea Group, a Hong Kong-based investment bank which is also listed in New York and Singapore. The unit was founded in 2019 and provides fintech services in Asia, including a virtual bank called Airstar.
With all due respect to AMTD, this is boring.
And yet, this little-known fintech company, which made just over $25 million in revenue last year, now boasts a market capitalization of over $310 billion. It’s more valuable than Shell or Costco. That’s on par with companies like Walmart and ExxonMobil, reports my colleague Michelle Toh.
Just to underscore the absurdity of it all, the company released a statement essentially shrugging off their extreme turn of fortune.
“To our knowledge, there have been no material circumstances, events or other matters relating to the business and operational activities of our company since the date of the IPO.”
The source, it seems, is a group of traders on the famous (or notorious, depending on your perspective) sub-reddit WallStreetBets who executed a short, destructive hedge fund squeeze in early 2021 when they is stacked in GameStop, AMC and other stocks they believed were undervalued.
Speculation is firmly entrenched in the Reddit crowd, but even some of those investors seemed puzzled by the wave.
According to Bloomberg, some analysts point to the ATMD’s low free float, which makes it easier for large shareholders to drive up the price.
“Given the speed of its rise, I have a feeling this one is going to nose dive,” Oktay Kavrak, director of Leverage Shares told Bloomberg. “Hopefully investors will take profits along the way as the inevitable crash will send HKD back into relative obscurity.”
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