Monopoly or Share-O-Poly?
Summer holidays in India during the 90’s was on every mother’s worry list. Especially in those places where the thermometer never dropped below 40 (centigrade) as it was hard task to keep the children indoors while their friends played a game of cricket come shine or more shine. This was an age where Doordarshan was the only channel that played on TV, people heard about personal computers in conversations and video games were found in game parlors in big towns where kids with loads of pocket money could afford to rent them for fixed time slots.
Parents had a few tricks up their sleeves. One of them was to get the children hooked on to board games which could engross one for hours between pangs for food and ripe mangoes as desserts. One such board game is ‘Monopoly‘ (or its Indian ripoff called Business). For those of you who don’t know what monopoly is, it’s a property and real-estate dealing game with a goal of making money and driving everyone else to bankruptcy. Its basically a rent seeking game wherein you buy a city and once another player lands in your city you seek rent. Oh boy! one used to jump with joy to buy those high priced Metros that brought in high rents. On the day you rode your luck by wearing your rocket ship underpants you went home with a great loot.
And of course the game has a few who don’t go by the rule book and make some side rules of interest free loans from rich players, joint ownership of sites, majority ganging up against the richest. Typically the game ended when the winner took all but one used to end the game when majority of players start losing interest ( a point when a near monopoly is established).
Till the first decade of this millennium the business world was not much different from a game of monopoly (winners took all).
Some global examples are
Microsoft Office-> Office Suite market
Internet Explorer-> Internet Browser
Some examples closer to home would be
Indian Railways -> Railroad in India
India Post of the 90’s -> Postal Service in India
BSNL till 2000’s -> Land lines in India
Seeing these monopolistic companies, wannabe entrepreneurs started loosing interest in this game as they had low paying cards. Hence they made new rules, explored new territories and changed the game. Today you see all traditional hotel booking sites scared of Airbnb, Car rental guys like Avis/Hertz being scared of Ride sharing car providers, Banks and VC’s being scared of crowd funding platforms like Indiegogo, kickstart, kiva etc, Art auction houses scared of etsies and their likes. Various overnight courier and private logistics provider have already sent India Post to an old age home.
Sometimes you see the big fish ganging up to choke the small guys by influencing the governing policies without realizing that its an act of their desperation before an imminent death. They should know that the age of co-existence and thriving by sharing has arrived. This is an age where the quote ‘I Share, Therefore I exist‘ is very much applicable. It seems the children who were tired of monopoly board game rules and tried to build alternate banks, sharing economies, lenient mortgages, co-sharing profits etc. have gone ahead and are replicating this in today’s economy.
It’s time we invent a new board game, maybe call it share-o-poly, to teach the new rules of sharing business to our young. Anyone game?
Tags: Avis, board game, BSNL, Business, collaborative consumption, duopoly, etsy, Hertz, India Post, indiegogo, Internet Explorer, kickstart, kiva, Microsoft, Monopoly, oligopoly, share economy, sharing