I have been on vacation with my family and this week we went to Toronto. We lived in an Airbnb apartment, had about 10 Uber rides. Yesterday, a few hours after I asked my family if they enjoyed services of these pioneer “sharing economy” companies, I read a piece of news about a company who failed to understand the essence of this term.
The short story is: After bringing strangers into his/her Facebook as part of a “Silicon Valley tour”, an FB employee got fired for breaking his/her NDA, and must leave U.S. due to evoked H1B status.
It was claimed that this former Facebook employee met the tourists on Chummy.com, a website founded by a former member of Tencent. Chummy.com brands itself as a sharing economy platform for traveling, where local members can share their time, knowledge and advice about a place. After the unfortunate event Chummy.com published an article in which it attacked Facebook’s “overprotection” and asked members to “have faith in the future of sharing economy”.
The way I see it is simple: Chummy.com is a company with twisted understanding of the term “sharing economy”. What Airbnb and Uber allow their users to share are their own space, vehicle and time, which they have full ownership on. Chummy, on the other hand, encourages its members to share not only their personal time and space, but resources of their companies. Not even to mention the business risk it shadows on companies like Facebook when people from who-knows-where gets into the offices – from my experiences at Microsoft, you actually can hear things just by being in the building.
For sure this is partly the employee’s own fault, because at the end of the day it wasn’t Chummy.com who signed NDA with Facebook. However, deliberately encouraging its members to share everything knowing possible legal issues, Chummy.com has no ground to plead not guilty. While glad to see Chinese companies are attempting to step into heated sharing economy market, I do believe companies like Chummy still have much to learn about respect and responsibility.