Uber + Volvo like WeWork + Property?

Volvo Cars (image) just announced they shake hands with Uber! Is Uber to Volvo and the automotive industry, what WeWork is to the Property Industry?

Did Volvo in fact just announce a sensation! A ”new stack” with interdependent players and how they are configured? Where these layers became clearer? Layers with everything from small snippets of data and technology, over basic infrastructure to, ultimately, the customer experience? Where some players get way more scope than others? Where layers and platforms are both physical and imaginary? And interfaces in between are standardised (or proprietary)?

Interesting parallels here.

In Property, WeWork seem to rapidly gain market share wherever they operate. They face customers and transform their (our) needs and desires to new business at a steady pace. They do so without actually owning any of the physical enablers, or the Property itself. The have focused on the customer experience and used platforms and services in a clever and opportunistic way, in order to rapidly build up their market presence. With a winning idea!

In transportation, Uber also face the customers. In some cases controversial but for sure, they have collected way more data about how we actually use these services than most players. Without actually owning any of the physical enablers, cars. Now, Volvo has announced they will provide platforms to Uber.


Considering the way we are supposed to consume transportation in the future, caring less about the brand of the actual vehicle, this may well be the right move from Volvo!

Maybe Volvo just confirmed what we already feel. They started positioning themselves as a platform player. Not just a car-sharing provider. Not the “fully modular, in-house developed Scalable Product Architecture (SPA)”, but entire vehicles, with all their properties. Everything physical and maybe even emotional, except the business relationship with the customer.

Who is in fact in the driver seat? Who is in the passenger seat? Where is the initiative? Who is next to make such a handshake? Apple? Google? And yes, Google is already intertwined with them all. Will it be the same with Ford? Mercedes? How many car makers do we actually need?

Where is the winning idea here? Enormous opportunities. And huge revenues, balance sheets, even on a national level and many jobs at stake!

It is obvious that Volvo is capable of providing platforms for a customer-facing player like Uber in an efficient way. Will it remain so in the future? Only time will tell. Or will Volvo have to compete with other super-efficient suppliers the same way as Foxconn does to apple? Where apple owns the customer loyalty, branding of the hardware and set the guidelines for all services. And Foxconn is a generic, hyper effective electronics manufacturer.

Back to the Property industry. It is commonly said that ”buildings are constructed almost twice”, or at last 1,5 times. Reading between the lines; lots of room for improved efficiency here!

The Automotive industry, where Volvo has gone through an impressive turnaround, has spent decades improving their efficiency. The same goes for the electronics industry

What-if. The Property industry would be pressured from two directions now! Players like WeWork who have the customer loyalty are in the drivers seat. They set the guidelines for all services and supplies. On the other end, buildings are provided by super-efficient builders and their backers who operate more like the electronics manufacturers or auto makers. If so, how many Property companies do we need?

There is opportunity! Any business with a marginal “slack” ranging from 50-100% like in the construction and partly in the maintenance domains start moving, sooner or later.

Is #proptech going to be the enabler! Many initiatives are starting up now where technologies, platforms and services from other industries are infusing the Property domain.

Maybe in a near future, efficiency in the Property industry will be more in par with other mature industries!

We are facing tougher competition between ideas, value chains, platforms, services and the ability to combine these in new and interesting ways.

It is more important than ever to have winning ideas. To understand how platforms and technology work. Knowing how to compose your own “stack” out of this intricate ecosystem. And above all, becoming more creative! No matter if you intend to have the end-customer loyalty or if you wish to be a platform or whatsoever provider to such players.

Have you ever thought of where in the value chain you actually are today? Which are your winning (and unique) ideas? How well are you adapting to new technologies and platforms?

In the automotive industry the days are probably over when “cars” are the answer? In property, the same probably goes for “buildings”?

And we have not even mentioned Tesla, or ”electric”. Volvo is clear on their electric vision. Tesla is both electric, possibly self driving in a near future and they still have a solid fan-base. Will the Uber+Volvo combo change that?

A lot of creative sampling is certainly going on out there. Today’s business life is perhaps more interesting than it has ever been!

You grab the wheel and drive your industry’s transformation. Or someone else does it for you!