Drone Innovation Gets a Lift — Literally

Welcome, this industry newsletter shares key market changes, in a twice-monthly publication, curated by Jeremiah Owyang, Founder of Crowd Companies™, you can subscribe to the email newsletter on the footer of the homepage.

Delivery Drones Hitch a Ride
Innovative technologies are bringing drone delivery closer to reality — by offering drones a ride. In a 2014 patent just recently unearthed, Amazon has plans for a 45,000-foot-high drone mothership that would enable individual deliveries to save energy by gliding down to their destination, then flying to a smaller airship for the return trip. Read more about it on CNET. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz has developed a futuristic delivery van that can automate onboard package selection and pairing with a drone through a roof hatch. The mobile drone base would boost last-mile delivery productivity by an estimated 50%. Read much more about plans for the Mercedes-Benz drone-equipped delivery van on Dezeen.

Western Union Connects People’s Emotions Too
There’s more to Western Union than connecting people financially, and it has become the core strategy of the legacy brand’s social media. New VP of Global Social Media, Brand and Engagement Karen O’Brien has discovered a powerful connection with customers around their feelings of being torn between two worlds — and the affinity they hold for the brand that bridges the vast span of miles. Read more about O’Brien’s road to Western Union and her social media epiphany on Forbes.

BMW Joins the Self-Driving Race to Market
Crowd Companies member BMW is joining both the self-driving and ride-sharing frays with plans for autonomous vehicle tests in Munich this year. The initiative will begin with 40 test driver-controlled cars offering ride-sharing services in inner-city Munich. The upscale car manufacturer sees the opportunity in autonomous ride hailing and has tested the waters in Seattle with its pay-by-the-minute ReachNow service. With self-driving cars, BMW aims to leverage its premium reputation and expertise in managing fleets. Read more about BMW’s plans on Reuters.

Share Your Blockchain Experience With Us
Contribute to Crowd Companies’ cutting-edge research on blockchain and its coming opportunities across the entire spectrum of the business world by sharing your insights. Crowd Companies is seeking qualified interview subjects to inform our next report on the implications of blockchain in and beyond its Bitcoin-based role in financial services — think smart contracts, electronic medical records, secure transactions, digital asset management, Internet of Things and more — as well as the obstacles to its implementation. Read more about what we’re looking for and how to submit your name on our founder’s blog.

We want to hear from you! What are the market impacts of this week’s news stories? Email Crowd Companies™ Founder Jeremiah Owyang directly to share your thoughts.

Image from Pexels used under Creative Commons license.

Industry Impacts of Airbnb’s Shift to Experiential Business Models

The future of Airbnb lies in creating memorable guest experiences, and brands will benefit by complementing these experiences in relevant, valuable ways.

Since attending Airbnb Open in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, I’ve been contemplating what Airbnb’s announcements around shifting toward experiential hosting mean for both guests and corporations. Guests will find authentic travel experiences that complement their hospitality choices, while corporations will find opportunities to partner with Airbnb and sponsor these entertainment and cultural adventures.

During the event, executives from Airbnb revealed a few interesting data points:

  • The average business traveler stays at an Airbnb for six nights
  • The average Airbnb host makes $7,530 per year
  • Travel spending is nearly 10% of global GDP ($7.2B)
  • Airbnb had 40M guest stays in 2015 (see graph below), in 34K cities in 191 countries


With guests staying for nearly a week at their hosts’ abodes, many are looking for immersive experiences in the local scene––activities and sights that can’t be booked through a travel agent or seen from a tour bus. There are already more than 600 experiences available to travelers through Airbnb! The company is also experimenting with on-demand car delivery for off-the-beaten-path travel, as well as prepared food delivery.

What does this mean to you? Corporations have the opportunity to connect directly with tastemakers around the world, inserting their brands and products into diverse experiences with lasting impact. Let’s explore a few of the potential industry opportunities:

  • Consumer Goods: Airbnb is the world’s largest showroom, with the goods in hosts’ homes used to influence buyers as the level of trust between guest and host are high.
  • Retailers: These new “experiences” mean that local retailers will be visited in cities, led by the hosts and tour guides.
  • Hospitality and Travel: For hotels, this new offering is about the entire trip, and they’ll soon offer flight deals and cars, in addition to experiences and homes.
  • Food: Food will be delivered directly to Airbnb locations, and continued on-demand food models will become important.
  • Finance: Hosts are generating a modest amount of income per year, but need money to upgrade their locations, an opportunity for small loans.

What does this mean for all companies? Today’s modern customer is seeking experiences, they show off using digital technologies, and access to physical goods is easy with on-demand models, rather than ownership of a house, car, electronics and more. Established companies need to revisit their strategy to provide customers with experiences that connect to the real meaning of why customers want platforms that enable new adventures and more.


AI Takes Center Stage for Newest Innovations

Abstract design made of head outlines, lights and abstract design elements on the subject of intelligence, consciousness, logical thinking, mental processes and brain power

Welcome, this industry newsletter shares key market changes, in a twice-monthly publication, curated by Jeremiah Owyang, Founder of Crowd Companies™, you can subscribe to the email newsletter on the footer of the homepage.

Uber Picks Up Team for New AI Labs
A team of 15 artificial intelligence scientists and tech pioneers recently piled into the back seat of Uber to help the ride-sharing company accelerate its machine learning toward self-driving cars, aircraft, and robots. Uber’s acquisition of Geometric Intelligence officially launched its new AI Labs division, based in San Francisco. The new cutting-edge researchers will be led by Geometric Intelligence Founder and CEO Gary Marcus, with the goal of moving people “radically faster, safer and accessible to all.” Read more about the Uber acquisition.

Amazon Go Puts AI on Grocery Shelves
Swiping technology from self-driving cars, Amazon has created a self-calculating shopping experience where customers can simply check in on an app, grab what they need off the shelves and go. Being launched with an early 2017 rollout at 2131 7th Ave. in Seattle, Amazon Go puts together computer learning, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion to cut out the lines, checkouts and cash registers of the typical shopping trip. Order totals are automatically charged to customers’ Amazon accounts. Learn more from Amazon’s introduction video.

Tyson Foods Looking to Repackage the Future
On the brink of a CEO transition, Tyson Foods is looking to spice up its product lines with fresh and new offerings picked up on the startup market. Its all-new venture capital fund, Tyson New Ventures, is getting $150 million to sample startups in alternative proteins, food waste elimination, and innovative tech trends. Tyson New Ventures follows in the footsteps of General Mills, Kellogg, and Campbell Soup, which have taken similar routes, as well as Tyson’s own 5% ownership stake in Beyond Meat. The VC fund will be led from Chicago by former DuPont Ventures Managing Director Mary Kay James. Read more about Tyson New Ventures on Fortune.

We want to hear from you! What are the market impacts of this week’s news stories? Email Crowd Companies™ Founder Jeremiah Owyang directly to share your thoughts.

Image from Flickr used under Creative Commons license.

Change Drives Us to Twists in Road


Welcome, this industry newsletter shares key market changes, in a twice-monthly publication, curated by Jeremiah Owyang, Founder of Crowd Companies™, you can subscribe to the email newsletter on the footer of the homepage.

A Trump Tax Cut Could Bolster IPOs
If President-Elect Donald Trump follows through on his campaign promise, the plan to slash the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15% could be a boon to unicorn startups. While the uncertainties of his other assertions certainly warrant due diligence, Trump’s tax break would likely lure billions back from overseas and flood balance sheets with critical cash flow. Analysts have specifically called out Snap, Uber, and Airbnb as likely beneficiaries, with many more to follow. Read more about how Trump’s tax policy would affect startups and future IPOs on Fortune.

Learn From Digital Transformers Who’ve Gone Before
Digital disruption is running rampant across the business world, but corporate leaders too eager to rush through a major transformation risk leaving their employees and company cultures behind — to the detriment of the entire organization. Learn how early pioneers of corporate transformation have navigated the frontier, whether they ramped up and plugged in savvy new digital divisions, retrained and reshaped their leadership around digital experimentation, or reimagined their customer experience in light of a new normal. In the end, they all relied on listening, learning and failing fast. Read all about the 12 lessons learned from GE, Domino’s, and Scotiabank from Hewlett Packard Enterprise insights.

Sharing Economy Challenged With Keeping Momentum
The novelty and excitement surrounding the sharing economy is already starting to wear off, and suddenly there are concerns about the road ahead. New research from the JPMorgan Chase Institute separates perceptions from real performance, and it shows that half of everyone who’s tried Uber, Airbnb, or other sharing economy platforms to make money has ultimately ditched their ride or closed the door on their rental opportunity. Whether the pay hasn’t materialized or they’ve given up their gigs for better jobs, there are obvious new roadblocks to success on the horizon. Read more about the data and its implications on Quartz.

We want to hear from you! What are the market impacts of this week’s news stories? Email Crowd Companies™ Founder Jeremiah Owyang directly to share your thoughts.

Image from Pexels used under Creative Commons license.

Cheers to Otto’s First Autonomous Truck Delivery: Beer



Welcome, this industry newsletter shares key market changes, in a twice-monthly publication, curated by Jeremiah Owyang, Founder of Crowd Companies™, you can subscribe to the email newsletter on the footer of the homepage.

Cheers to Otto’s First Autonomous Truck Delivery: Beer
Uber’s self-driving truck division, Otto, recently completed the world’s first autonomous truck delivery, shipping 50,000 cans of Budweiser across Colorado from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs. The only caveat is that the fully Level 4 retrofit was only engaged while on the interstate. Otto’s self-driving strategy is to leave the local driving — the few miles to and from the interstate — to humans. While on the highway, Otto’s engineer was freed up for paperwork, exercise, or sleep. Otto’s six-truck fleet is still focused on smoothing out the ride and tweaking its software, but the technology is capable of being retrofitted onto any truck with an automatic transmission. Read more about the historic drive on Wired.

Conventional Banking Finally Tries Blockchain Trade
The financial technology that has driven efficient international bitcoin transactions since 2009 has finally been tried out by conventional bank leaders. Wells Fargo & Co. and Commonwealth Bank of Australia recently facilitated the first international blockchain transaction between banks for a shipment of cotton. The web-based technology that cuts out the need for third-party verification in order to process and settle transactions makes trades faster, more accurate, and more efficient, and the traditional transaction processing industry is “ripe for disruption.” Read more about the blockchain breakthrough from Reuters.


Airbnb Lightens Its Eco-Footprint With SolarCity Rebate
Environmentally friendly home sharing is headed for an ultra lightweight footprint through a partnership where Airbnb hosts and guests can get up to $1,000 off a SolarCity solar power generation system for their homes. On the flipside, all SolarCity customers can receive an $100 Airbnb travel credit. The partnership capitalizes on the growing move toward climate-friendly travel and aims to tap solar’s largely untouched millennial market segment, especially with SolarCity’s zero down financing. Read more about the innovative collaboration between Airbnb and SolarCity on TechCrunch.

We want to hear from you! What are the market impacts of this week’s news stories? Email Crowd Companies™ Founder Jeremiah Owyang directly to share your thoughts.

Image from OTTO

So Who’s Really Going to Own Autonomous Cars? There’s Four Scenarios.


Above: Mercedes Benz Autonomous Car

Two mega trends are coming together: The Collaborative Economy and the Autonomous World, which means shared mobility from self-driving cars.

Early this year, we published a research report on the Business Models of Self-Driving Cars, and we’ve presented our findings at a number of industry events. A commonly asked question is: “In the future, will we even own cars?” I want to share a few scenarios that are likely to emerge.

Today’s 3-year-old toddlers are unlikely to ever learn how to drive. With autonomous cars already making their debut now, and then en masse in 2021, per Ford and others, these toddlers are unlikely to require driving skills in the year 2031.

Here are four scenarios of car ownership that could play out:

  1. The on-demand model, a.k.a. “Uber/Lyft” model. In this model, autonomous cars would be like a “utility” where most don’t own them, certainly in cities; they are summoned on demand.  John Zimmer, the CEO of Lyft, put forth a visionary piece where most city dwellers do not own cars in cities by the year 2025. Uber’s executives paint a future where mobility is like any other utility, where at a “twist of the tap,” mobility can flow out of a nozzle. In urban areas, home garages could be converted to living space (or Airbnb rentals), and large multi-story garages could be converted to green spaces.
  2. The shared car model, a.k.a. “Zipcar” model. A group of cars are available in a convenient regional area, where many can share and own these cars. For example, some progressive apartments now have shared vehicles in their garage for renters. In this model, a group of neighbors could invest in the commonly owned costs of these cars, and share insurance, car ownership, and maintenance costs. We’ve seen a growth in P2P insurance models, which could further enable this market.
  3. The wholly owned model, akin to current ownership. Just as we currently own most vehicles, we could continue to own vehicles in the future, but they will self-drive. This makes the most sense in rural areas and, to some degree, in suburban areas. Some people with families that have specific car seat or mobility needs (the elderly, those with wheelchairs, etc.) may require their own self-driving vehicles. Others we have spoken to suggest that human-driven cars will only be owned by the very rich — or very poor — similar to how horses are owned today.
  4. Autonomous cars own themselves. Also called a distributed autonomous organization (DAO), self-driving cars could become sentient creatures in the radical future that can not only self-drive and self-charge, but also then take themselves to be repaired at a local garage, and pay for it on their ownership. In this future, the excess profits generated from these self-driving cars would enable them to purchase an additional vehicle, expanding themselves from one car to eventually a fleet. All of this, in theory, could occur without human intervention and without human ownership.

In the end, there won’t be one single model. We’ll likely see a mixture occurring, just as we see this occurring now. Below, the models are broken out into a grid.

Matrix: Scenarios of Future Car Ownership

Mobility Model Who’s Likely to Adopt Who Will Own Business Model
On Demand Urban areas will embrace Uber, Lyft, car manufacturers On-demand service
Shared Car Urban areas, suburban Enterprise, Avis, private owners offering cars on Getaround, Turo Subscription, pro-rata
Wholly Owned Car Wealthy, young families, special care Individual owners Ownership/lease
Autonomous Cars Own Themselves An advanced artificial intelligence that can self-manage a fleet Cars will own themselves Computer-owned “corporation,” an undefined model, or a nonprofit akin to Wikipedia


Above: Tesla’s Autonomous Car

Tesla showed its hand by prohibiting customers from sharing.
Recently, Tesla made an unusual mandate, that its own customers cannot enable their privately purchased self-driving Teslas to be listed on Uber or Lyft. This is a strange mandate considering the cars were purchased outright. It, of course, forebodes a few future business models that we’ll see from Tesla; it’ll likely offer a service model where the owners, or Tesla themsleves enable their autonomous cars to be made available to others as a service.

When would human-driven cars become obsolete?
While Elon Musk suggests that manually driving a car may someday be illegal due to human error and safety reasons, such vehicles won’t go away anytime soon. There would be a significant economic bottom if so many owned assets were quickly depreciated by a government decree. But looking decades forward, when autonomous cars become dominant and common, we will see a social and perhaps government cry for human drivers to be curbed. Perhaps if it’s not illegal, the insurance costs of manually driving would become too high.

To summarize, autonomous vehicles will not only significantly impact how we will be transported, but also the very business models in which our economy operates and how cities will change.


Above: BMW’s Autonomous Concept Car

Self-Driving Vehicles Steer Talk of Future Economy


Welcome, this industry newsletter shares key market changes, in a twice-monthly publication, curated by Jeremiah Owyang, Founder of Crowd Companies™, you can subscribe to the email newsletter on the footer of the homepage.

Uber’s OTTO Takes Autonomous to the Assembly Line
Bringing the latest in autonomous vehicles indoors, Clearpath Robotics has put a self-driving cart in between factory assembly lines and the stacks of materials needed to manufacture today’s goods. OTTO can map its own route and recharge itself, and now an extra $30 million is set to take OTTO into many more factories, warehouses, and distribution centers — as well as develop the next generation of “profound” innovations for the global supply chain. It’s a start toward the technology that industry forecasters predict will replace 7% of American labor by 2025. Read more about self-driving vehicles in factories on Futurism.

Next:Economy Touts the Reign of Humans in a Robotic World
The gradual rise of robots in the economy of the future will enhance and empower — not eliminate — the human race, according to some of the top minds pioneering the Autonomous World. Their thoughts took center stage at the recent Next:Economy conference in San Francisco. Among the takeaways were the observation of a shift to tribal, tech-powered neighborhoods; the way ahead for social good companies as opposed to corporations that don’t return capital to the economy; the coming efficiencies of cooperation with AI; the challenges of economic depressions and authoritarian leaders; and Silicon Valley’s need to engage with regulators. Read all about the Next:Economy perspectives and Crowd Companies’ initial take in Founder Jeremiah Owyang’s live notes.

Insiders Spy Google’s Self-Driving Minivan Prototypes
The first prototypes from the partnership between Google’s self-driving system and Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans were recently spied in a Mountain View parking garage. Google has announced plans to equip 100 Pacificas, which have an electric range of 30 miles and a “robust electrical architecture” well-suited for the integration of autonomous driving technology. The prototypes feature a roof-mounted sensor suite and fender-embedded sensors. Once fully deployed, the 100 minivans will dwarf the rest of Google’s self-driving fleet, which currently features 24 SUVs and 34 other vehicles. Read more about the prototype discovery from electrek.

Image from Pexels used under Creative Commons license.

Crowd Companies Future Events and Upcoming Research


By Carl Bohlin and Jeremiah Owyang

Technologies empower customers faster than companies can adapt. To help businesses keep up with that pace of change, we host thought-provoking events, bring in the right speakers, and publish relevant research. In everything we do, Crowd Companies connects corporate leaders to the right innovation resources, thus enabling timely and effective action.

Crowd Companies provides members with up-to-date information on the technologies and customer behaviors that are driving business model changes. We do this by staying abreast of trends, conducting and providing member-directed research, involving thought leaders and startups in the ongoing conversations, and providing our members with the ability to learn and share in confidential, in-person meetings and teleconferences.

Crowd Companies is hosting two physical events coming up in October 2016 at which we plan to hear from Council members and thought leaders. It is always inspiring to gather at these events and share in a private setting some of the most pressing challenges and opportunities we face as a Council. And in the midst of new business model changes, it’s great to validate initial thoughts, share collective learning, and discuss with peers promising strategies to address common internal challenges.


October 6th, 2016, in San Francisco: Join us for our Meet, Learn, and Tour event, one of the few opportunities for those outside the Council to experience what interactions in Council settings can be like. We will highlight the corporate innovation research initiatives that Crowd Companies currently has underway, as well as hear from the cutting-edge experience of Nestle, and take a tour of its Innovation Outpost. 


October 25th and 26th, 2016, in NYC: Our Main Event, hosted by MasterCard, will be the highlight of the year, featuring presentations by MasterCard, Statoil, Wells Fargo, Migros, Sparks and Honey, General Assembly, Robert Scoble, and more, along with the findings of proprietary member research.

What’s up for 2017? We are adding more!

Council members love the in-person engagements and networking. Therefore, Crowd Companies will be providing more opportunities to foster discussions and increase knowledge and awareness. We are adding gatherings at top industry events and expanding our European events. To date, our 2017 lineup includes:

January 5th: Member Gathering in conjunction with CES, Las Vegas

March 11th: Member Gathering in conjunction with SXSW, Austin, Texas

April 26th: European Summit, hosted by Philips, Amsterdam

June 15th: Spring Summit, hosted by AARP, Washington, D.C.

September: The Main Event, San Francisco

October: European Summit, TBD

**Plus more under consideration

Crowd Companies also continues to grow and expand our research. The Crowd Companies Corporate Innovation Report is underway, with previews of the research scheduled to be delivered on October 6th at the San Francisco Meet, Learn, and Tour, and full delivery to our membership planned for our October 25th Main Event in NYC.
What’s next for research? After we complete the Corporate Innovation Report this fall, we’ll begin research on the Business Models of Blockchain to find out how all industries and verticals are impacted by cryptocurrencies.

A New Vision for Hospitality, Infrastructure, and Business


Welcome, this industry newsletter shares key market changes, in a twice-monthly publication, curated by Jeremiah Owyang, Founder of Crowd Companies™, you can subscribe to the email newsletter on the footer of the homepage.

A World Without Drivers Changes the Game for Businesses
As new technologies reshape how we collaborate and move, the entire foundation of traditional business models will be reconfigured. Crowd Companies’ research into the coming Autonomous World points to a society where autonomous vehicles give way to radical reductions in costs for logistics and transportation, followed by a revolutionary paradigm shift for businesses. Beyond auto companies, airlines and hotels will adjust to mobile offices and entertainment experiences, insurance companies will be forced to reinvent product offerings, predictive inventory management and distribution will dominate logistics and delivery, retail storefronts will become showrooms or warehouses, and communities will gravitate toward designing for walkability. Learn more about Crowd Companies’ research by watching Founder Jeremiah Owyang’s speech at Analytics Experience 2016.

Airbnb Welcomes the World’s Hosts to Re-Envision Hospitality
A celebration of hospitality and innovation in hosting is bringing some of the friendliest people from more than 100 countries to Los Angeles Nov. 17-19 to inspire, enlighten, and re-envision the future of hospitality at Airbnb Open LA. The three-day festival and conference aims to “explore unique neighborhoods, spark lasting friendships, and exchange best practices with fellow hosts” and a blockbuster lineup of speakers from all facets of the industry, including the Airbnb co-founders, Ashton Kutcher, Gwyneth Paltrow, James Corden, Attorney General Eric Holder, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, author Elizabeth Gilbert, futurist Jason Silva, and many more. Get more info on Airbnb Open LA.

Lyft Imagines a World Built for People, Not Cars
Take a look around at the immense waste of space that’s dedicated to a world which revolves around the automobile. Empty, parked cars everywhere. Now join Lyft in re-imagining what that space could be if all those vehicles were gone. Such is the epiphany of Lyft Co-Founder John Zimmer, who believes a new transportation revolution will lead to the demise of private car ownership by 2025, thereby removing the burden of parked vehicles, streamlining the nation’s infrastructure, and transforming the space in which we live. Read much more of Zimmer’s thoughts via Medium.

We want to hear from you! What are the market impacts of this week’s news stories? Email Crowd Companies™ Founder Jeremiah Owyang directly to share your thoughts.

Image from IDG Communications

Startups Test the Throttle of Market Leaders’ Innovation


Welcome, this industry newsletter shares key market changes, in a twice-monthly publication, curated by Jeremiah Owyang, Founder of Crowd Companies™, you can subscribe to the email newsletter on the footer of the homepage.

Established Corporations Striving to Keep Up With Startups
Lightweight and nimble, startups across America and the globe are taking the business world to exciting new places — in hopes of augmenting their brands and products into the daily lives of customers, much like what established companies have already done. Crowd Companies has identified the ways startups differ most from their market leaders, thereby distilling the necessary ingredients for an agile modern corporation to most effectively foster a culture of innovation that keeps its brand at the forefront. Read all 11 ways that startups are known to outrun established corporations and weigh in on the discussion on our blog.

A Robot Takeover on the Horizon
Fearing a robotic takeover of the workplace in the coming years, the White House assembled its economists and concluded that the rise of industrial technology provides an 83 percent likelihood that workers who make $20 an hour or less will be replaced by robots, along with a 31 percent chance that those making $20 to $40 per hour will lose their jobs and a scant 4 percent risk to those earning more than $40 an hour. Those economists also credit technology with further polarizing the gap between the rich and the poor, and though new technologies no doubt present unprecedented opportunities and efficiencies, they may just displace more jobs than they create by 2025. Read more about the White House’s economic forecast from the Huffington Post that published a few months ago, but we felt it was timely to surface again.

Self-Driving Buses Turn the Corner in Finland
Taking advantage of laws that only require supervision of autonomous vehicles, not a physical driver, Finland’s Metropolia University of Applied Sciences has put a pair of 12-passenger electric Easymile EZ-10 buses on a fixed route through the streets of a Helsinki neighborhood for a month-long test that’s one of the world’s first. For good measure, Metropolia has included an onboard supervisor and is throttling the buses down to just 6 mph. Helsinki has made it a public goal to get rid of all personal cars and provide complete public transportation solutions within a decade. Read more about the self-driving buses on Curbed.

We want to hear from you! What are the market impacts of this week’s news stories? Email Crowd Companies™ Founder Jeremiah Owyang directly to share your thoughts.

Image from Pexels used under Creative Commons license.

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