Airbnb company logo on an electronic tablet.
Airbnb company logo on an electronic tablet. (LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP)

In the space of two days, Airbnb and Uber, two big names in what has been called “the new economy”, announced massive layoffs and bleak prospects. Airbnb, the American platform for renting accommodation between individuals, will lay off a quarter of its employees worldwide, or 1,900 people out of 7,500 employees. For its part, Uber, the car reservation company with drivers (VTC) announces the loss of 3,700 jobs, about 14% of the total number of its workforce.

Today, a lot of companies are worried about their future. What is specific to Uber and Airbnb? Their economic model. Their “business model” is based on ever more services, leisure and comfort. For other brands, it’s always more consumption, more speed… And this with ever lower production costs and prices. However, the crisis we are going through makes us aware of the limits of this system. Many actors call for braking, slowing down. And these groups are already anticipating. Airbnb, for example, has announced a pause in several plans to introduce luxury hotels and properties to its offering. Uber recognizes that its business model will likely be very different in the coming years.

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The low-cost models are not dead but they seem to have eaten their white bread. After the crisis, to preserve our purchasing power, we will always want to buy cheaper, it is natural, but we have seen it for years, this model has negative consequences on employment and wages. Everything is pushed down. The system shows its limits. And then, we will probably be more demanding on the quality of products, especially food, by favoring short circuits, local trade, revitalizing city centers. The consumer is reinventing itself. But if tomorrow we want to buy even more French, we must prepare to pay more. Everything except “low cost”.

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