|Founded||August 2008San Francisco, Californiain|
|Headquarters||888 Brannan Street, San Francisco, California|
Peer-to-peer property rental
|Revenue||$2.6 billion (2017)|
|$450 million (2017)|
|$93 million (2017)|
Number of employees
|Subsidiaries||Luxury Retreats International Inc.|
Deco Software Inc.
Trip4real Experiences, S.L.
Airbnb Uk Limited
|Footnotes / references|
Airbnb, Inc. is a privately held global company headquartered in San Francisco that operates an online marketplace and hospitality service which is accessible via its websites and mobile apps. Members can use the service to arrange or offer lodging, primarily homestays, or tourism experiences. The company does not own any of the real estate listings, nor does it host events; as a broker, it receives commissions from every booking.
- 1 Product overview
- 2 History
- 3 Corporate information
- 4 Controversies
- 4.1 Hotel industry competition
- 4.2 Fair housing implications and discrimination
- 4.4 Pricing transparency
- 4.5 Objectivity of guest review system
- 4.6 Housing affordability
- 4.7 Use of double Irish arrangement
- 4.8 Loopholes allowing for scams by hosts
- 4.9 Unite the Right rally booking cancellations
- 4.10 Israeli settlements boycott
- 5 Hosting by long-term rental tenants
- 6 Regional short-term housing rental legislation
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Guests can search for lodging using filters such as lodging type, dates, location, and price. Before booking, users must provide personal and payment information. Some hosts also require a scan of a government-issued identification before accepting a reservation. The company also provides travel guides, entitled "Neighborhoods", which provide details about staying in specific neighborhoods in various major cities.
Hosts provide prices and other details for their rental or event listings. Pricing is determined by the host, with recommendations from Airbnb. Hosts may be required to report income and pay income taxes on income received via Airbnb. In the US, homeowners who refinance their mortgages with some agencies are able to count income they earn from Airbnb rentals on their refinance loan applications.
Legality of hosting
Some cities have restrictions on subletting for a short period of time. Airbnb has published a list of regulations and requirements for cities in the United States. In some cities, collection of a transient occupancy tax by Airbnb is required. In many cities, hosts must register with the government and obtain a permit or license. Landlords or community associations may have restrictions on short-term sublets.
Founder Joe Gebbia has said that Airbnb is specifically "designed for trust" and provides a variety of safety mechanisms, including US$1,000,000 of secondary insurance, which covers property damage by guests due to vandalism and/or theft, and connection to multiple social media channels.
Shortly after moving to San Francisco in October 2007, roommates and former schoolmates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia could not afford the rent for their loft apartment. Chesky and Gebbia came up with the idea of putting an air mattress in their living room and turning it into a bed and breakfast. The goal at first was just "to make a few bucks". In February 2008, Nathan Blecharczyk, Chesky's former roommate, joined as the Chief Technology Officer and the third co-founder of the new venture, which they named AirBed & Breakfast. They put together a website which offered short-term living quarters, breakfast, and a unique business networking opportunity for those who were unable to book a hotel in the saturated market. The site Airbedandbreakfast.com officially launched on August 11, 2008. The founders had their first customers in town in the summer of 2008, during the Industrial Design Conference held by Industrial Designers Society of America, where travelers had a hard time finding lodging in the city.
To help fund the site, the founders created special edition breakfast cereals, with presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain as the inspiration for "Obama O's" and "Cap'n McCains". In two months, 800 boxes of cereal were sold at $40 each, which generated more than $30,000 for the company's incubation. It also got the company noticed by computer programmer Paul Graham, who invited the founders to the January 2009 winter training session of his startup incubator, Y Combinator, which provided them with training and $20,000 in funding in exchange for a small interest in the company. With the website already built, they used the $20,000 Y-Combinator investment to fly to New York City to meet users and promote the site. They returned to San Francisco with a profitable business model to present to West Coast investors. By March 2009, the site had 10,000 users and 2,500 listings.
In March 2009, the name of the company was shortened to Airbnb.com, and the site's content had expanded from air beds and shared spaces to a variety of properties including entire homes and apartments, private rooms, castles, boats, manors, tree houses, tipis, igloos, private islands and other properties.
One year later, there were 15 people working from Chesky and Gebbia's loft apartment on Rausch Street in San Francisco. To make room for employees, Brian Chesky gave up his bedroom and lived at lodging booked via the Airbnb service until the company moved into its first office space. In April 2009, the company received $600,000 in seed money from Sequoia Capital and, in November 2010, raised $7.2 million in financing from Greylock Partners and, again, from Sequoia Capital, in a Series A round, then announcing that out of 700,000 nights booked, 80% had occurred in the previous six months.
In February 2011, Airbnb announced its millionth night booked. In January 2012, the company announced its five millionth night booked. In June 2012, Airbnb announced 10 million nights booked, doubling business in the previous five months. Of these bookings, 75% of the business came from markets outside of the continental United States.
In mid-2011, Airbnb began offering US$50,000 of secondary insurance, called its "host guarantee", which covers property damage due to vandalism and theft. In May 2012, the company increased the amount to US$1,000,000.
Due to the growth of international end-users, in early 2012, Airbnb opened offices in Paris, Milan, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Moscow, and São Paulo. These openings were in addition to existing offices in San Francisco, London, Hamburg, and Berlin. In September 2013, the company announced that it would establish its European headquarters in Dublin. Prior to the 2012 Summer Olympics, Airbnb acquired London-based rival CrashPadder, subsequently adding 6,000 international listings to its existing inventory. This acquisition made Airbnb the largest lodging website in the United Kingdom.
In November 2012, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Airbnb partnered with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to offer free housing for persons displaced by the storm. Airbnb built a microsite for this effort alone where victims register for housing and meet property owners with free housing. Additionally, Airbnb waived all service fees associated with these listings while maintaining the Host Guarantee for all properties listed.
In November 2012, Airbnb opened an office in Sydney, Australia, its 11th office location, and announced plans to launch the service in Thailand and Indonesia. At that time, Australian consumers accounted for 10% of the Airbnb user base, and in December that same year, Airbnb announced its strategy to move more aggressively into the Asian market with the launch of an office in Singapore.
In November 2012, Airbnb acquired NabeWise, a city guide that aggregates curated information for specified locations. The acquisition shifted the company focus toward offering hyperlocal recommendations to travelers. That same month, Airbnb launched "Neighborhoods", a travel guide of 23 cities that provides in-depth information via collaborative filtering to help travelers choose a neighborhood in which to stay based on criteria such as public transportation, dining, peace & quiet, nightlife, tourist attractions, and shopping.
In December 2012, Airbnb announced the acquisition of Localmind. Localmind is a location-based question and answer platform that allows users to post questions about specific locations online. These questions are then answered in real-time by experts on the specified territories.
By October 2013, Airbnb had served nine million guests since its founding in August 2008, and in December 2013, the company reported it had over six million new guests in 2013, and nearly 250,000 properties were added in 2013.
In July 2014, Airbnb revealed design revisions to the site and mobile app and introduced a new logo. Some considered the new logo to be visually similar to genitalia, but a consumer survey by Survata showed only a minority of respondents thought this was the case.
In the summer of 2016, at the request of three members of the United States Senate, the Federal Trade Commission began investigating how Airbnb affected housing costs. In October that same year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill charging Airbnb fines for violations of local housing laws. The New York Times reported that these events were related and part of a "plan that the hotel association started in early 2016 to thwart Airbnb".
In January 2017, Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, posted on Twitter that the company will give free housing to refugees and any others not allowed into the United States as a result of Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13769, which temporarily banned refugees from the United States. Airbnb also led a $13 million investment in restaurant reservation-booking app, Resy, along with serial entrepreneurs Gary Vaynerchuk, Ben Leventhal and Mike Montero.
In February 2018, Brian Chesky revealed the company is considering launching an airline.
In February 2018, Airbnb announced Airbnb Plus, a collection of homes that have been vetted for quality of services, comfort and design, as well as Beyond by Airbnb, which will offer luxury vacation rentals.
Airbnb has offices in the following 21 cities:
In November 2010, it raised $7.2 million in a financing round led by Greylock Partners. In July 2011, it raised $112 million in financing led by Andreessen Horowitz. Other early investors included Digital Sky Technologies, General Catalyst Partners, and A Grade Investments partners Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary.
In April 2014, the company closed on an investment of US$450 million by TPG Capital at a company valuation of approximately US$10 billion. Additional funding was provided by Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, Dragoneer Investment Group, T. Rowe Price and Sherpa Capital.
In June 2015, Airbnb raised US$1.5 billion in a Series E funding led by General Atlantic, and joined by Hillhouse Capital Group, Tiger Management, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, GGV Capital, China Broadband Capital, and Horizons Ventures.
In March 2017, Airbnb raised US$1 billion in funding, bringing total funding raised to more than US$3 billion and valuing the company at US$31 billion.
For the third quarter 2018 the company announced the revenue of more than $1 billion.
Hotel industry competition
Airbnb competes with the hotel industry. The American Hotel and Lodging Association has lobbied governments, asserting that the hotel industry is subject to unfair competition from Airbnb, which resulted in additional regulations being imposed on the company.
Fair housing implications and discrimination
In July 2016, former Attorney General Eric Holder was hired to help craft an anti-discrimination policy for Airbnb after the company faced many complaints related to racism, including a study by Harvard Business School that showed widespread discrimination by hosts against guests whose names suggested that they were black.
Airbnb's identity verification system "Verified ID" has been perceived by many customers as excessively intrusive. It requires three layers of customer identification: telephone, photo of ID (such as passport or driver's license), and verification of Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+ account.
Airbnb uses drip pricing; when customers search for lodging, Airbnb displays per-night prices that exclude its service fees and the total charges are not revealed until the customer selects an individual property. After a crackdown by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in October 2015, users of Airbnb's Australian web site now see the total price of a stay including all unavoidable charges at every stage of the booking process.
Objectivity of guest review system
Airbnb features a review system in which guests and hosts can rate each other after a stay. Hosts and guests are unable to see reviews until both have submitted a review or until the window to review has closed, a system which aims to improve accuracy and objectivity by removing fears that users will receive a negative review in retaliation if they write one. However, the truthfulness and impartiality of reviews may be adversely affected by concerns of future stays because prospective hosts may refuse to host a user who generally leaves negative reviews. In addition, the company's policy requires users to forego anonymity, which may also detract from users' willingness to leave negative reviews. These factors may damage the objectivity of the review system.
Airbnb is criticized for its impact on housing affordability, sparking protests, and for its related data management. As of the beginning of 2018, several studies found that rental prices in many areas increased due to Airbnb, as landlords kept properties off the longer-term rental market and instead get higher rental rates for short-term housing via Airbnb. Landlords have been accused of illegally evicting tenants in order to convert properties into Airbnb listings. In San Francisco, the issue led to protests in November 2015.
A study published in 2017 found that increasing Airbnb listings in a given neighborhood by 10% leads to a 0.42% increase in rents and a 0.76% increase in house prices. According to an analysis conducted in 2016, while commercial listings comprised only 10% of Airbnb's total listings in 25 largest U. S. markets for the period between June 2015 and May 2016, they constituted about a third of host revenue. In markets such as Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, the share of revenue from commercial listings reached nearly 50%.
Use of double Irish arrangement
Loopholes allowing for scams by hosts
In 2017, Airbnb was accused by travel blogger Asher Fergusson of failing to close dangerous loopholes allowing for scams by hosts. In many countries including the United States, France, Canada and the United Kingdom, Airbnb doesn't require hosts to provide any form of identification. A host who has been "permanently banned" can set up a new account under a different name and email address. Addresses are not verified so "bad" hosts can list lodging at any address, even if they don't control the property.
Unite the Right rally booking cancellations
In August 2017, Airbnb cancelled numerous bookings and closed accounts belonging to attendees of the white nationalist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, citing its community standards user agreement to "accept people regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age."
Israeli settlements boycott
In 2016, Airbnb attracted the attention of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign following media reports that lodging listings included settlements in the West Bank that are advertised as being in Israel or in Israeli neighborhoods. According to international law professor John Dugard, former UN special rapporteur on Palestinian human right, because the Israeli settlements are illegal, Airbnb "could in theory be prosecuted in [a European Union] country with aiding and abetting the commission of a crime" due to "making money from property built on [an] illegal settlement."
In 2018, Airbnb announced that it will remove the approximately 200 "listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians". Airbnb stated, "many in the global community have stated that companies should not be doing business here (in the occupied territories) because they believe companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced". Airbnb expressed the hope that its action would encourage adoption of a two-state solution by the disputants. Palestinians welcomed the firm's move. The move has been met with criticism from Israel and others who claimed the move was anti-Semitic by targeting only Jewish-owned properties in the disputed territories. 
Hosting by long-term rental tenants
Many landlords have complained and resisted long-term tenants who sublet their rented space on Airbnb and profit from it without consent from the landlord. In many cases, landlords cannot instantly evict their tenants for subletting because of rental laws. A similar law in Quebec that protects tenants also does not hold them legally eligible when subletting their rented spaces as landlords would in the case of long-term rental. In 2016, Airbnb offered to work with landlords whose tenants list their properties on and launched a program consisting of mutual agreements for subletting if the landlords agreed to it and that it was legal in their local municipalities.
2018 legal action
In January 2018, a federal court ruled in favor of Airbnb in a lawsuit filed by Aimco involving its tenants illegally subletting their rented spaces on Airbnb. The court defended Airbnb under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which does not hold Internet based services liable for the actions of their users. Instead the tenants are believed to be held responsible for illegally subletting their spaces without attaining prior consent from their landlords.
Regional short-term housing rental legislation
The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (September 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Many governments have passed regulations affecting short-term housing rental companies such as Airbnb.
In 2018, to combat the local housing crisis, the government of Tasmania set up offers between 10,000 and 13,000 Australian dollars to landlords to rent out their spaces for longer terms on lower costs instead of listing them on Airbnb.
European cites that have enacted strict regulations on Airbnb, and which have imposed heavy fines for violations of these laws, include Paris, Barcelona, and Berlin. By contrast, Amsterdam and London have been more welcoming to the service.
The European Union (EU) warned member states against banning sharing businesses like Airbnb and Uber, stating that outright bans should be used only as a last resort to attain public interest and that governments should instead implement more moderate regulations, which the sharing companies have had to navigate through. The European Commission advocated the EU's guidelines on regulating sharing businesses companies and warned that they were pulling massive revenues generated estimated at around 28 billion Euros across Europe.
In February 2015, Amsterdam implemented a cooperative effort with Airbnb that incorporated a tourist tax on rentals and Airbnb's agreement to ensure potential hosts are made aware of required rules and regulations. London passed an amendment to its housing legislation in March 2015 allowing short-term rentals of up to three months a year.
In May 2018, Madrid announced proposals to reduce the number of Airbnb and homeshare listings available to help tackle "over-tourism" in the city. The plan aims to preserve residential home rentals in the central areas of the city, preventing them from becoming accommodations exclusively for tourists.
Numerous North American cities have imposed restrictions on short-term housing rentals. A 2016 Techdirt article reported that municipalities in the United States aiming to restrict Airbnb and its hosts would be in violation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which does not allow prosecution of Internet-based platforms based on a user failing to comply with local laws.
Arizona prevents municipalities from interfering in private property rights, so allows Airbnb hosting.
New York City
West New York, New Jersey
Portland, Oregon created a new zoning code in 2016 to regulate short-term rentals and it includes several limitations, such as capping the number of bedrooms in a single unit that may be listed. Additionally, Portland pledged in 2015 to dedicate part of the Airbnb occupancy taxes to affordable housing.
In 2017, San Francisco passed a law requiring Airbnb hosts to register with the city before they can rent units. Units cannot be rented for more than 90 days a year.
Santa Monica implemented regulations in 2016 that include prohibition of rent-controlled units from being listed as short-term rentals.
In December 2017, the City of Toronto under John Tory, adopted restrictions, banning homeowners from leasing basements with separate entries and other unlicensed residential units for short-term rentals, stating intention to protect the long-term rental market. Government-issued licensing and fees would also be required of hosts to continue with short-term rentals. The new restrictions were criticized by some hosts who had relied on Airbnb as a source of income. Airbnb responded in an open letter to the mayor and members of the City Council, welcoming fair competition, but also made several arguments, including that Toronto's economy as a growing global hub had benefited from its listings which, according to Airbnb, had then brought about $292 million into the city's economy.
In November 2017, the Government of Vancouver, Canada adopted regulations and restrictions against Airbnb hosting, claiming to protect the long-term rental market, which it stated was just above zero availability. The new regulations include allowing hosts to rent only their principal residence. Hosts were also required to obtain a paid license, with acquisition and maintenance fees, with a number to be displayed when listing any space for rent. A voluntary transaction fee of three percent was also to be implemented per reservation, but Airbnb claimed it was unable to collect such fees, instead requesting an amendment for the hotel tax.
The opposing Non-Partisan Association criticized the new regulations, as did some rental hosts, claiming they deprived them of personal property income. Councillor George Affleck argued that the city was creating more bureaucracy and taxation, and not solving the problem, arguing that it made Vancouver a more difficult and costly place to live, also giving the opinion that more long-term rental housing should be built. Airbnb's public policy manager for Canada welcomed the move of making short-term rental legal, but criticized the ban on secondary suites from being rented.
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