Aaron M. Renn recently published an article in The Washington Post talking about carless cities and driverless cars. It’s an interesting read, but I’m not going to talk about those topics today. So if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll have to read his piece.
I do, however, want to focus on one particular aspect of it.
In it, he talks about how Tesla is shifting the “locus of power in the auto industry” from Detroit to Silicon Valley and, at the same time, changing the way cars are sold. Tesla sells direct to consumers through its corporate stores, whereas franchise laws in almost every U.S. state mandate that new cars need to be sold through dealers.
I’m not sure how these laws came to be, but it’s interesting to note yet another example of technology and the internet sparking disintermediation. That is, the removal of middle people, distributors, brokers, and so on. It’s the same thing that is happening as a result of companies like Uber and technologies like Bitcoin.
I would imagine that lot of these legacy distribution models exist today because it was previously the most efficient option. If you were a car company based in Detroit, a network of local franchisees all across the country working to sell your cars was probably a great thing. But now there are other options, as is the case with many other industries.
So what’s next?
Wikipedia calls out the following industries as still being in the midst of disintermediation:
I bet you all know which one I’m watching closely.