How Airbnb Took Over the World
In just 11 years, it has grown from nothing to a $30bn firm. But critics say Airbnb’s rise has come at a huge cost to urban life – and cities across the planet are trying to find ways to rein it in.
Last year, Forbes estimated the business to be worth $31bn (£23bn). In the coming months, Airbnb is expected to become a listed company, with an initial public offering netting enormous wealth for Gebbia, Chesky and co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk.
But Airbnb’s extraordinary success has not been welcomed unreservedly. Some residents in areas with a big Airbnb presence claim the business is hollowing out communities by forcing up rents and limiting availability for people seeking long-term lets, and importing large numbers of tourists who display scant interest in courtesy to their temporary neighbours.
Social media and websites such as airbnbhell.com abound with stories from hosts, guests and neighbours of excessive noise, trashed homes, wild parties, last-minute cancellations and scams. But they are matched by positive experiences from satisfied travellers who have found affordable alternatives to hotel rooms.