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Airbnb, Lyft partner with new share-economy advocacy group

A new nonprofit wants to promote and protect peer-to-peer services, but says it won't lobby the government.

Peers Executive Director Natalie Foster (center) speaks at a recent Peers community event. Peers

Peer-to-peer businesses have a new voice as they go up against traditional industries and, in some cases, government regulations.

Businesses like Airbnb, Lyft, and TaskRabbit -- companies in the "sharing-economy" -- have partnered with Peers, a nonprofit that plans to organize sharing-economy users.The newly formed organization made its debut on Wednesday.

Executive Director Natalie Foster said the goal of the organization is to promote and protect the businesses and groups that allow people to share goods and services. This means holding events to bring together advocates and users for "community-building" and providing a place for them to share stories and talk about related topics, which includes legislation or local regulations.

Many of the organizations partnering with peer are tech companies who profit from the peer-to-peer services. Aside from Airbnb, Lyft, and TaskTabbit, here are a few other group partners:

• Get Around
• Zaarly
• Sidecar
• RelayRides
• Yerdle

The businesses don't fund Peers. Instead, they will promote the nonprofit to their users, Foster said. Foster has an extensive background in running nonprofits and advocacy groups, including President Barack Obama's digital team at Organizing for America. While Foster has a keen interest in how tech can disrupt politics and encourage social change, she said Peers will not focus on pushing or lobbying for legislation. But, it can't hurt the companies to have a nonprofit advocating for their cause.

Peer-to-peer services, specifically car-sharing ones like Lyft and Sidecar, won a victory on Tuesday, when the California Public Utilities Commission decided it would allow ride-sharing if drivers agreed to certain guidelines, despite continuing protest from those in the taxi industry.