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Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Airbnb made headlines last week for sending a comment letter to the SEC, asking it to allow the home-sharing company to give equity to its hosts.

Why it matters: The number of gig economy workers continues to rise, but monthly payments have been on a lumpy decline path, according to a new JPMorgan study. This could become an attractive new benefit.

  • Uber spoke with the SEC several years ago about giving its drivers equity, but the ride-hail company gave up after being told it would be illegal under current law.
  • The big difference today is at the top of the SEC, with a new Commissioner who is very interested in democratizing access to startup equity.
  • Most of that has been focused on finding ways for non-accredited retail investors to invest in non-public companies, but it also could be accomplished by letting gig economy workers get stock in their "employers."

To be clear, this isn't going to happen overnight. The SEC comment period officially closed this past Monday, but I hear that some gig economy companies are still working on comment letters that they'll just submit late. Then the SEC must review the letters, possibly issue a new rule and likely then open up yet another comment period.

And all of that might come too late for ride-hail giants Lyft and Uber, both of which plan to go public in 2018 (related: Reuters reports Lyft is talking to JPMorgan to lead its IPO). Once public, these companies could simply give stock to their drivers, kind of like T-Mobile once gave it to certain customers.

  • Airbnb, on the other hand, remains without a CFO and without any immediate IPO ambitions.
  • And there are plenty of other gig economy companies to which this could apply, and for whom offering shares could become an important new recruiting tool.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

4 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.