December 6, 2016
Forced into a corner by city regulators, Airbnb acted like a real corporation: it stopped being polite and started getting real. Airbnb has branded itself as a defender of the middle class since its founding during the Great Recession, as millions of people who’d lost jobs, homes, and savings were looking for a way to get back on their feet. The company has stuck by that image for nearly a decade, even as it matured from a humble startup to a $30 billion business, worth as much on paper as Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel chain. For a long time, the interests of Airbnb and its hosts were perfectly aligned: putting hosts first was the way to get more hosts, which meant more bookings overall and, for Airbnb, more revenue. But as regulators have cracked down on home-sharing in some of Airbnb’s biggest markets, corporate imperatives and champion-of-the-middle-class branding have gotten tougher to square….