On-Demand Economy Notes, January 24, 2018

Lots of short notable goodness for your on-demand economy appetite today. News and thoughts follow.

ADP gets serious about on-demand. ADP, the Paterson, N.J. payment processing and payroll provider, acquired WorkMarket, a freelance management platform. The startup’s Work OS supports on-demand and full-time employee relationships that is integrated with Salesforce, among others. This marks the beginning of a serious experimentation phase for on-demand work models. 

Amazon isn’t perfect. Amazon Restaurants, the retail giant’s food delivery service, has laid off 50 staff in Seattle. It is not clear that means the group is under the knife, but it shows that food delivery services are still wide open markets.

The Institute for the Future released an important on-demand economy white paper, “Designing positive platforms: a guide for a governance-based approach” to on-demand marketplaces. Their focus on governance, the rules of engagement between a platform and worker, as well as the way the platform ensures representative and transparent practices to minimize information asymmetries in their markets, is critically important. As a former Chaordic Commons trustee, I can attest to the difficulty in creating governing documents like the IFTF advocates. The IFTF framework is an invaluable contribution to this dialogue. Read it for yourself. Summaries won’t do it justice.  And there is a useful list of companies studied for the report.

Gig worker payments are shifting to day-of-delivery and direct deposit. Lots of interesting data points in this PYMNTS.com article. PayPal is the conduit for 35 percent of gig workers’ payments and 54 percent of workers use direct deposit.  Drivers use direct deposit far more than other categories. I imagine we will see a day when a job contract is a debit card.

Amazon may not have cashiers in its Go convenience stores, but Bolt, a San Francisco startup just coming out of stealth mode, according to TechCrunch, is angling to help the rest of the stores on Main Street catch up. The initial services focus on online commerce, from check-out to fraud and business intelligence. Transaction platforms like this will survive and thrive based on customer engagement. Bolt looks ready to attack the cart abandonment problem today.

Omnicom, the ad conglomerate, incubated Spry, an on-demand public relations firm, which launched this week. The business idea turns on the idea that editors make the press release professional, and freelancers can be called on to generate drafts quickly and cheaply. Content.ly for press releases is a wedge, but the agency faces competition from full service firms that can amplify the messages they create. Omnicom’s spin-out, Cision, and PRNewswire businesses will eventually play a part in Spry’s success.

Mastercard launched the Inclusive Futures Project to address on-demand transactions, government services, and smart cities experiments. Here is the plan and partner projects announced today, with this explanation of the focus: “Two commercially viable segments surfaced as areas in need of more dedicated focus and research: Struggling Middle Income consumers and Gig Economy workers. The reality is: all too many of these individuals and their families fight to achieve and maintain financial stability; and as such, consistently find themselves excluded, unable to reap the benefits of a growing economy.”

Drones are coming with your stuff. Dorado, a European on-demand delivery service says drones are two to six times cheaper and 1o times faster than current options. What is Dorado’s play? To raise $55 million through a ICO to fund its go-to-market strategy for home and business deliveries in Europe. The firm has raised $r million from Goldfish Fund, an ICO-centric institutional fund.

Fiverr tells Crunchbase News it acquired AND CO, a SaaS platform for freelancers and self-employed workers. A video release explains the deal. The company suggests this deal indicates consolidation is underway in the on-demand economy. It’s just the first wave. AND CO had previously raised $2.5 million.