Recently both AirBnB and Uber have asked the SEC to allow them to give equity to their contractors - hosts in the case of AirBnB and drivers in the case of Uber. The gig economy is clearly here to stay and it’s encouraging that we’re seeing companies trying to adapt to the changes. I’m sure it’s partially for the marketing spin - both AirBnB and Uber have been facing significant criticism lately - but even then this is a good example to set for future companies. We are moving towards the gig economy and being able to give equity to participants is a great way of sharing the wealth.
The amounts are not going to be life changing but there are benefits beyond the purely economic. If and when the companies go public these shares should have some voting rights attached and give the workers a chance to backup their concerns. This has been going on for centuries (since the 17th century according to Wikipedia) and is nothing new. What is new is giving people who have historically not had any financial say a concrete way to vote with their wallets.
The idea of giving equity to the participants in the marketplace echoes what’s happening in the blockchain world - participants are able to hold stakes in the network and as the network becomes more valuable so do their stakes. Both of these ideas are novel and it’s going to be interesting to see how they play out.