Cookie-cutter corporate housing turns people into worker drones. When an employee needs to move to a new city for a few months, they’re either stuck in bland, giant apartment complexes or Airbnbs meant for shorter stays. But Zeus lets any homeowner get paid to host white-collar transient labor. Through its managed ownership model, Zeus takes on all the furnishing, upkeep, and risk of filling the home while its landlords sit back earning cash.
Zeus has quietly risen to a $45 million revenue run rate from renting out 900 homes in 23 cities. That’s up 5X in a year thanks to Zeus’ 150 employees. With a 90 percent occupancy rate, it’s proven employers and their talent want more unique, trustworthy, well-equipped multi-month residences that actually make them feel at home.
While planning a recent family trip to Iceland, his wife wanted to check out “another site,” which Fogel carefully avoids naming, but is clearly Airbnb. The home rental she found there looked good, so she tried to book it. “Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth with the emails, like bah-bah-bah, bah-bah-bah,” Fogel says, describing the booking process with his typical high-energy intensity. “Like a week and a half later, the person says, ‘Okay, I can’t rent it to you,’” he says. “What a waste of energy and effort.”
Fogel likes that story because it shows off one advantage Booking.com has against its startup competitor. Every one of Booking’s home listings—5.4 million, he reminds me on a recent morning in New York City, more than Airbnb’s nearly 5 million—is instantly bookable.
Fully 24% of Americans have participated in the peer-to-peer or “sharing economy,” according to a new Pew Research report. Which is perhaps bigger than we thought.
Pew counts everyone who’s taken a task on a digital platform (like TaskRabbit), sold something to another community member (eBay), made something and sold it online (Etsy), driven their own cab (Uber), or rented a house (e.g. Airbnb). “These platforms also allow users to earn money in a range of other ways, such as sharing their possessions with others or selling their used goods or personal creations,” it says.
If you fancy hanging out in the sizzling-hot middle of nowhere, with an endless expanse of sand all around and the occasional scorpion scuttling by for distraction, Audi’s got the promotion for you.
As part of its Emmy Awards sponsorship, the auto brand and Airbnb will offer fans the chance to book three-day getaways at the luxury Rondolino Residence in Death Valley, Nevada. The place is so isolated, it has no actual address—just coordinates on a map.
Guests get to drive a 2017 Audi R8 during their stay, which also includes chauffeur service from the airport, meals prepared by a personal chef and, according to press materials, “evening entertainment/activities.” (Scorpion races, perhaps?)
AIRBNB IS SPEAKING out against tough new legislation in San Francisco that would require short-term rental sites to police their own listings for properties that violate city regulations.
This week, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted 10-0 to toughen short-term rental laws already on the books. The city already requires hosts renting out their places on Airbnb to register with the city, though that’s proven difficult to enforce. But with a bulked-up progressive majority following the election of Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who campaigned on housing affordability, the board decided it needed to crack down harder. The new rules demand that Airbnb and sites like it only publish listings that include an official registration number that shows the property is officially approved by the city as a short-term rental. Sites that don’t comply could face fines of up to $1,000 daily for each listing in violation.
It is wishful thinking that Airbnb can scale up “what makes this global community so special” rather than have its community become co-opted by the values of the global marketplace — presumably efficiency, the maximization of profit, and personal interest (as opposed to “trust and safety”). It seems like Airbnb would like to wish away the complexities of what community really means: shared interests that hold people together, a set of agreed-upon rules to keep people in check, and transparency.
I’ve heard people wonder if we’re in a bubble with regard to startups. Is it as bad as the 2000 dot-com bubble? Might it actually be worse? I thought it would be worthwhile to look at the available data to see if we can figure this out with more than just a personal opinion. So I asked our engineering team at Google Ventures to dig into the bubble question and find out what the data say. In this post, I’ll share what I learned.
Back in the late 1990s, venture capitalists got very excited about the Internet. A whole lot of money was poured into some companies that failed rather spectacularly, and a lot of people lost a lot of money.
Fast forward to 2015. If you read the headlines about multi-billion-dollar valuations for companies like Uber (one of our portfolio companies), Airbnb and Dropbox, it’s easy to see why some people are feeling antsy. Is everyone irrationally excited about new platforms and economic models in the same way folks were excited in 1999? Or is this different? There are two sides to the case.