Brian May on the Gig Economy

Floridian Partners News

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this job is the perspective it gives all of us on the growth of the United States economy. Our country has had a long history of creating opportunity via creativity and innovation, and this has led to the long-lasting prosperity we as a people have enjoyed. American innovators have always and will always come from the private sector: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, and countless more individuals have fundamentally changed the way our country, and our world, function. They do this through the art of creative destruction, wherein a new economic force pushes other, less efficient sources to either improve their offerings or get out of the way. This can be seen when the automobile put carriage manufacturers out of business, or when the advent of the cellphone led to the extinction of pagers. This process is a difficult one, and can oftentimes begin with regulatory angst and political gridlock when elected officials must decide between maintaining the status quo, or leading into unchartered territory where conventional regulation simply doesn’t work.

In my experience, I have always found that growth, whether personal, political, or economic, is often times uncomfortable. However, in the end, the world generally ends up better off because of it. Currently, we are in the midst of one of those great economic shifts. The cause this time? The gig economy.

The gig economy is one in which a portion of economic output is created through part time work that puts an emphasis on efficiency, flexibility and convenience. After the 2008 recession, individuals began looking for ways to generate income for themselves and their families aside from their 9-5 job. This was perhaps the beginning of what became the gig economy. Since that time, this source of economic output has grown in size and importance and an ever-increasing number of people are utilizing the gig economy as an important source of income. What does all this mean? To put it simply, it means that the government must now account for this in their regulation and taxation. However, in order to remain the economic powerhouse our nation has become, it is always going to be important for all stakeholders, including the companies associated with this new business model, to have a voice at that table when decisions are being made.

Prime Strategies understands the important relationship that must exist between the public and private sector. For that reason, we are constantly looking for creative ways to ensure our client’s are able to operate in a fair regulatory environment.

Two of our clients include Airbnb and Uber, who have been at the forefront of the American gig economy for a few years now. Since these two companies were the first in their respective spaces, governmental bodies around the country weren’t quite sure how to deal with the manner in which their services are delivered to the public. For example, in the state of Florida, there were no existing statewide transportation regulations that covered a ride-sharing company like Uber, who was forced to navigate through the different regulations of each county in which they operated. Clearly, this put a strain on their operations that diverted time and energy from innovation and forced resources to be spent understanding countless transportation regulations.

To solve this issue, Uber teamed up with Prime Strategies and Floridian Partners. What started as a local effort lead by Floridian Partners in Miami and Broward, has become a statewide reform effort, which includes the Floridian Partners team in Tallahassee.

Last year in South Florida, our Miami and Fort Lauderdale offices negotiated and received approval for the regulatory framework for which all ride sharing companies operate. In Tallahassee, new legislation, which still awaits passage by the Legislature, sets common regulatory standards for Uber and all Transportation Network Companies at a statewide level.

Much like Uber had their fair share of legislative battles, Airbnb is no different. Just recently, Floridian Partners saw the successful completion of our work with Airbnb result in a deal with Miami-Dade and Broward Counties to collect tourist taxes from Airbnb hosts. Previously, Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms were treated as outliers in the tourism world that did not fit well into the existing regulatory ordinances of municipal and county governments in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Now that Airbnb has established tourist tax collection agreements with these Counties, as well as 36 others throughout Florida, an important step has been taken to recognize Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms and the economic value they bring to thousands of South Floridians.

The innovative process is never an easy one. At Floridian Partners and Prime Strategies we truly understand that. In many cases, innovative platforms and ideas are rejected simply because people fail to understand them and their value in our ever evolving society.

Understanding these new platforms and business models is our job. Our passion for enacting positive and meaningful change is what drives us every day to craft innovative, individual solutions for each and every one of our clients. By creating a regulatory environment that fosters innovation and economic growth, our company is able to help countless individuals grab their slice of the economic pie that comes with it.

Brian May is a Partner in the Miami offices of Floridian Partners . He can be reached by email at bmay@flapartners.com.