6 years ago

The Blockbuster Issue

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  • Airbnb
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PEOPLE Lyft and the

PEOPLE Lyft and the cloud-computing business Salesforce. Each firm has integrated Airbnb options into its corporate travel booking systems. Airbnb has also teamed up with Concur, the expense account and travel booking management company. 10% of Airbnbers are now business travellers. On paper, Airbnb should be a total disaster. Why would anyone let out their most valuable asset to someone they have never met, nor probably ever will meet? “People thought we were nuts,” Chesky concedes. There have been a few high-profile disasters too, notably the man in New York who found out that the home he thought he had rented to someone looking for a place for his in-laws to stay while they were in town for a wedding, had instead been used for a sex party, memorably described as an “orgy for overweights” in the New York Post. To weed out bad tenants – and bad landlords – each is required to write an online review of the other after every stay. Users can read the reviews before they decide to make or take a booking. Airbnb also offers homeowners insurance of up to m. Airbnb bans landlords that Chesky says “don’t abide by our values”. Violations include renting out homes landlords do not live in or renting out homes 365 days a year, which removes valuable housing stock for city residents. But that’s rare, Chesky says. “Sharing our homes seems to bring out the best in us.” It helps that Airbnb is at the benign end of what has become known as the ‘sharing economy’ – ordinary people becoming micro-businesses by sharing personal assets. His near neighbour, Travis Kalanick, boss of app-based ownerdriver taxi service Uber, is facing a backlash from old-school taxi drivers, regulators, civic leaders, financiers and even journalists, after one Uber executive suggested delving into the private life of a critic on a US newspaper. Whichever way you look at it, Chesky’s business is a remarkable combination of what his friend, Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, describes as “soaring ambition and utter practicality”. But the most remarkable thing is the one thing none of its users is keen to talk about: It’s legality, or otherwise. Hotels have to observe strict fire and life safety rules, food safety regulations, security and hygiene standards. Airbnb hosts have to do little more than check that the smoke detectors work and maybe leave out a bottle of wine and some milk, eggs and coffee. Few take out landlord insurance. That’s unfair, at best, and illegal, at worst, say hoteliers and unions representing hotel workers. Tenants renting a home should pay occupancy taxes, as hotel guests do, and hosts should pay tax on their rental income. Few tenants pay occupancy taxes, and few Airbnb AIRBNB’S BREAKNECK GROWTH GIVES IT A VALUATION OF AROUND BN. MARRIOTT IS VALUED AT ABOUT BN. NOT TOO SHABBY FOR A START-UP THAT EIGHT YEARS AGO WAS JUST HOT AIR landlords declare their earnings to the taxman. Apartment-block rules in many cities forbid rentals of less than 30 days unless the owner is there, too, a restriction many Airbnb landlords ignore. All of this gets up the nose of city authorities and the taxman, who claim Airbnb is not playing fair. In May the New York State Attorney General took legal action to force Airbnb to hand over anonymous data on a host of its users. Some cities have tried to ban Airbnb. “Some people think we are a pain in the arse,” Chesky admits. But there are signs that times are changing. Chesky won an important legislative victory in San Francisco last year. The city’s board of supervisors legalised short-term rentals of less than 30 days. Landlords, the new law says, must be permanent residents of San Francisco and enter their names in a city registry of hosts. Whole houses can be rented for up to 90 days a year. The law also imposes tax on rentals and requires landlords to take out landlord insurance. Other cities and countries that now allow home-sharing include London, Amsterdam, France, Portugal, Hamburg, Philadelphia, Portland, San Jose and Nashville. The legislative change is good business news for Chesky. San Francisco remains one of the company’s largest markets, with nearly 5000 Airbnb homes and apartments. It has spurred him on to look at new services he and his (mostly) merry band of global hosts can offer, whether it is cooking, city tours or transport. It is also great news for Chesky personally. He has lived in hundreds of Airbnbs, many of them in San Francisco, “to get to know the business better”. What’s more, his threebedroom apartment in South of Market is still on Airbnb. His couch is yours for a night. 64 j THE BLOCKBUSTER ISSUE

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Jaguar Magazine celebrates creativity in all its forms, with exclusive features that inspire sensory excitement, from beautiful design to cutting-edge technology.

In this issue, we explore the art of creativity from the Brazilian masters who devised the graceful art of Capoeira, to the Irish artists mixing new culture with old. You will also discover the creative line that links Victorian wallpaper to the iPhone. While the multi-talented actor and performer, Riz Ahmed, explains why it is the right time to reveal his true self to the world.


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