Co-living is the logical next step in the race to monetize the wantrepreneur lifestyle. ... Over the past seven months or so, several sleek new real estate developments have been announced, a couple of them even venture-backed, that want to offer residents a customized version of this brand of co-living. They share some basic similarities with their Bay Area predecessors, from experimental Northern California communes to hacker hostels crammed with young software engineers who headed West because it looked exciting on HBO. All ask residents to trade personal space for the perks of group living, but the newer entrants have a different attitude toward the “communal” part of the proposition — here, the “co-” prefix is more a signifier of close quarters and plug-and-play co-habitation, rather than co-op–style shared duties, chore wheels, and elbow grease. Month-to-month rental agreements require little more than a signature and a credit card. Your chores are done for you, seamlessly, in the background. Rooms are cleaned weekly. Coordinated events make even the socializing aspect easier. ... It’s a simple and intoxicating proposition — one born of the same Silicon Valley belief system that has plowed billions of dollars into on-demand apps that do your laundry, cook your meals, chauffeur you around, and clean your house, and that has so thoroughly shifted personal fulfillment to work that it’s all but indistinguishable from life. The do-it-for-me rental agreement reflects an unwavering faith in better living through entrepreneurship that constantly coos: When acting in service of a Big Idea, your time is too valuable to waste.
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There are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of influencers making a living this way. Some make a lot more than a living. The most successful demand $10,000 and up for a single Instagram shot. Long-term endorsement deals with well-known Instagrammers, such as Kristina Bazan, who signed with L’Oréal last year, can be worth $1 million or more. Big retailers use influencers, as do fashion brands, food and beverage companies, and media conglomerates. Condé Nast, publisher of the New Yorker and Vogue, recently announced that it would ask IBM’s artificial intelligence service, Watson, to take a break from finding cancer treatments to identify potential influencers. ... The ultimate goal: to persuade someone, somewhere, to pay me cash money for my influence. ... “You sell part of your soul. Because no matter what beautiful moment you enjoy in your life, you’re going to want to take a photo and share it. Distinguishing between when is it my life and when am I creating content is a really big burden.” ... Instagram doesn’t explicitly ban bots, but its terms of service do prohibit sending spam, which, when viewed in a certain light, is exactly what I was doing. On the other hand, except for a single user who somehow had me pegged and accused me of being a bot, nobody with whom I interacted seemed to mind the extra likes or comments. ... I was already verging into “micro-influencer” territory, a hot new field within influencer marketing where, rather than hiring one or two big-time influencers, an ad agency will simply give out free merchandise to 50 small-timers.