“Behind the hype of peer-to-peer economics is a quiet B2B revolution.”

Since the mid-2000s, the so-called sharing economy has grown from almost nothing to a pool of global businesses valued in the billions of dollars. The concept—people using technology to find and purchase one another’s extra resources—represents a triumph of trust and crowdsourcing. Peer-to-peer financial firms such as Lending Club, transportation services such as Uber, and lodging brokerages such as Airbnb have all rapidly taken off, using Internet-based platforms to connect people directly without highly paid intermediaries. It’s no wonder investors are so intrigued, and the rest of us are a little enervated by all the hype.