And since June 30? On this same day, I received a personal call from one of the co-founders of Airbnb. We had a lengthy conversation, in which he indicated having knowledge of the (previously mentioned) person who had been apprehended by the police, but that he could not discuss the details or these previous cases with me, as the investigation was ongoing. He then addressed his concerns about my blog post, and the potentially negative impact it could have on his company’s growth and current round of funding. During this call and in messages thereafter, he requested that I shut down the blog altogether or limit its access, and a few weeks later, suggested that I update the blog with a “twist" of good news so as to “complete[s] the story”.
“In New York, … a new law prohibits short-term rentals in many city buildings unless the owner is on the premises* …”
“Of course, hotel owners might not be too happy to face competition from start-ups like Airbnb, whose hosts are not required to charge lodging taxes or meet safety requirements.
The laws around these kinds of rentals are complicated and murky, housing officials and specialists in real estate law say. Leases vary from place to place. In New York, opportunistic brokers have been seeding Airbnb with multiple properties that they own or lease and filling them with a revolving door of travelers.
The city passed a law in May meant to curb such behavior. ‘What the city is attempting to discourage is someone buying or leasing residential rooms and turning them into a hotel room,’ said Kathleen McGee, who works with special enforcement in the mayor’s office. Airbnb says people who use the service are responsible for making sure they are not violating local laws. ‘We’re not classified as the brokers, we’re just the service,’ Mr. Chesky said.”*
"I’ll say this. EJ knows how to write. And it’s hard not to feel for her. As for Airbnb, they need to hire a crisis management expert and hope to God that somehow this all goes away before the mainstream press turns this into a fear parade. Remember paedophiles on Myspace? They love this stuff."
I've just learned more about this situation, and it turns out Airbnb has been offering to fix it, from the very beginning. From the beginning they offered to pay to get her a new place and new stuff, and do whatever else she wanted.
The story Arrington wrote yesterday about Airbnb not offering to help was bullshit. He asked a company spokesman what Airbnb was doing to help her. The spokesman, who'd been told by their lawyers that he couldn't go into detail about that because of the precedent said "I can't comment on that." So Arrington, in typical Arrington fashion said "Well, unless you tell me I'm going to write that you're not willing to do anything for her." And he did. Really not cool.
I've talked to the Airbnb guys and they are already doing everything they could be doing to help this woman.
Even if you don't believe they are nice guys (which they are, among the nicest of all the people we've funded), do you really think they are so dumb that they don't realize it's not worth the bad PR to save money and effort in this situation?
"They rifled through all my drawers, wore my shoes and clothes, and left my clothing crumpled up in a pile of wet, mildewing towels on the closet floor... Despite the heat wave, they used my fireplace and multiple Duraflame logs to reduce mounds of stuff (my stuff??) to ash..."
"Comet Cleanser was dumped everywhere; the kitchen counters, wood furniture, my gorgeous new bed frame, my desk, my printer… all were doused in powdered bleach... bathroom sink was caked with a crusty yellow substance."
A few thoughts:
1. What the hell?
2. Airbnb’s Christopher Lukezic told me on Wednesday that the company was not responsible for EJ’s losses, that they are just a service to match people and that they were helping the police find the people who did this. This was on the record, and it was a call we emailed about first. I didn’t take him by surprise. And I read this back to him before I posted.
3. Paul Graham says instead “The spokesman, who’d been told by their lawyers that he couldn’t go into detail about that because of the precedent said “I can’t comment on that.” So Arrington, in typical Arrington fashion said “Well, unless you tell me I’m going to write that you’re not willing to do anything for her.” And he did. Really not cool.
That’s a lie. What he said is what I wrote in no. 2 above, and what was in the original post.
4. Following publication of that Post, Airbnb Brian Chesky called me and I updated that post with his comments, mentioning that there was some miscommunication. I retweeted that there was an important update, and added a bold header at the top of the post mentioning the update.
5. I then added another update, an email from Lukezic. And another update pointing to a guest post by Chesky on the issue. It is absurd to think that I made up the statements that Lukezic made to me in our first interview. It wasn’t even really relevant to the story.
6. Chesky repeatedly thanked me for the updates by email and on the phone. If Lukezic wants to publicly call me a liar, he should do so directly.
7. I’ve seen this exact behavior before with the Scamville stuff a couple of years ago.
The real problem here isn’t some mixup in communication with me. The real problem is that the victim wrote that follow up post yesterday calling Airbnb out and making new allegations of an attempted cover up.
It kind of feels to me that what Airbnb really wants to do is call the victim, EJ, a liar. But they’re certainly not going to do that (although if they have evidence that she’s lying, they should be talking about that). Instead, they focus on us, call me dishonest and suggesting that the whole story is “bullshit.”
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