Until last year, the 52-year-old was in the enviable position of owning an apartment in Barcelona that he had rented out since 2013 via booking platform Air bnb. With the Spanish city being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, he was fully booked in 2019. Then corona virus hit at the start of last year. So it includes everything from renting out furniture, or your car, or paying to do some work at a shared working space. Or sharing an Uber ride with a stranger.
Like everything else, the shared economy has been greatly affected by the pandemic. Shared workplace providers were particularly badly hit, having to close sites, due to lockdowns and social distancing rules. One provider – US firm WeWork – made the headlines after users refused to pay their agreed rent. Yet with the end of the pandemic now finally perhaps in sight, another shared co-workspace business – Venture X – predicts the sector will grow this year thanks to people who don’t want to return to their office, but struggle to work from home.
The global sharing economy could be worth $335bn (£240bn) by 2025, up from just $15bn in 2015, according to a report from that year from accountancy group PricewaterhouseCoopers. It remains to be seen if the pandemic will see the 2025 prediction revised up or down. Markus Perkmann, professor of innovation and entrepreneurship at Imperial College Business School, says that the increased health and safety concerns brought by Covid may have deterred some people from the sharing economy, as they may have “higher trust” in large-scale commercial operators. “However, in the long-term, we can expect the successful sharing economy business models to bounce back as their intrinsic benefits will not have disappeared,” he adds. Back in Barcelona, Mr Schmidt says: “I suspect 2021 is going to be another write off for tourism.” However, he adds that “I am pleased with current strategy of switching to longer-term letting. But I definitely made more profit by renting out to sharing platform such as AirB&B. And I strongly believe very soon after the Covid-19, the shared-home business could booming again. “