digital technology makes accessible, or “exposes,” sources of supply that were previously impossible (or at least uneconomic) to provide. In the zone to the upper left, digitization removes distortions in demand, giving customers more complete information and unbundling (or, in some cases, rebundling) aspects of products and services formerly combined (or kept separate) by necessity or convenience or to increase profits.
The newly exposed supply, combined with newly undistorted demand, gives new market makers an opportunity to connect consumers and customers by lowering transaction costs while reducing information asymmetry. Airbnb has not constructed new buildings; it has brought people’s spare bedrooms into the market. In the process, it uncovered consumer demand—which, as it turns out, always existed—for more variety in accommodation choices, prices, and lengths of stay. Uber, similarly, hasn’t placed orders for new cars; it has brought onto the roads (and repurposed) cars that were underutilized previously, while increasing the ease of getting a ride. In both cases, though little has changed in the underlying supply-and-demand forces, equity-market value has shifted massively: At the time of their 2015 financing rounds, Airbnb was reported to be worth about $25 billion and Uber more than $60 billion.