The Real Airbnb

Since its inception, Airbnb has claimed to be a lot of things. The nice guy of the sharing economy, the little guy of the lodging industry and a friend of the community, ready and willing to work with the cities it operates in.

Now that Airbnb is a $30 billion company, how many of these narratives ring true?

You guessed it: none. And a recent Quartz story on Airbnb lays it all out perfectly.

No More Mr. Nice Guy

After years of playing the nice guy, Airbnb now finds itself on the defensive in some of its biggest markets, and the pressure doesn’t suit. The company has unleashed lawsuits, held rallies, and spent millions on lobbying campaigns. It has decried political adversaries and brandished opposition research on hotels. The clashes lay bare an ugly truth: Under fire, Airbnb is a corporation like any other. It’s not that nice at all.

The Biggest Little Guy in Town

‘They’re following this giant corporate America playbook and they’re pretending that they’re a bunch of nice guys who came up with a cute idea to save themselves money when they were post-college,’ says Liz Krueger, the New York state senator who sponsored the 2010 illegal hotels bill.

Airbnb is moving away from, or at least beyond, its founding promise of being a platform for the middle class. It’s becoming more professional, more like the very hotel chains it seeks to upend… It has 2.5 million listings across 191 countries and 1 million guests staying in them on any given night. Like many a successful startup before it, Airbnb now has far more stakeholders to answer to. But the company still rests its appeal on bettering the lives of everyday people, and that mantra feels increasingly outdated amid a host of corporate imperatives.

With Friends Like This…

The boom in home-sharing is finally being noticed, not just by Airbnb’s supporters, but by the many, many people who care about housing… Tenants in densely packed apartments are worried that a flurry of out-of-towners is decreasing their safety and disturbing their quality of life. In places where rents are already high and affordable units hard to come by, housing advocates fear the platform is encouraging profit-hungry landlords to turn their properties into makeshift hotels.

It’s time to get real and see Airbnb for what it really is. A billion-dollar behemoth corporation putting its own selfish interests above the families, neighborhoods and communities it claims to support.