New Book Describes How AirBNB Influenced City Laws

“For years, Airbnb was the friendly foil to Uber, aiming to work with cities rather than against them,” writes Slashdot reader mirandakatz. “But as it grew and regulatory challenges mounted, the startup had to grow fangs.” She shares an excerpt from a new book called The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World.
The reality people saw often depended on where their sympathies lay. Regulators, left-wing politicians, hotel CEOs, union leaders, affordable housing advocates, and angry neighbors tired of carousing guests saw Airbnb as nothing but a rule breaker from the far-away land of arrogant, entitled billionaires. Investors, hosts, property owners struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments, travel-discount shoppers, and high-tech aficionados tended to believe in the startup with good intentions that was disrupting the stultified hospitality industry.

The book is by Brad Stone, who also wrote The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon. He describes how “good AirBNB” got Portland to eliminate the $4,000 permits for B&Bs by agreeing to collect lodging taxes from AirBNB hosts (and by opening a Portland call center). But his excerpt ends as “momentum was shifting” against AirBNB in New York City, as powerful hotels and their service employee unions convinced city lawmakers that legitimizing the company would be “politically radioactive” — while the company’s CEO “was going to fight for every inch of territory”.

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