I think this has nothing to do with Roomorama taking advantage of the situation for their own profit. If anything, these guys have every right to be pissed off that a careless competitor is tarnishing the whole industry.
That's true in general. Bootstrapped startups, as a whole, are generally built to be long-standing real businesses, and they treat the business as such. You don't sink tons of your own money into an effort if you dont truly believe in the profitability of the business (profitability of the business, not potential valuation or perceived growth). Neither myself nor any of my friends who are bootstrapping their own firms pursue growth in favor of customer support, security or aggressive valuation.
The biggest part of the story though was thrown in at the end:
The harrowing story of the Airbnb user EJ prompted Ms. En Teo to reach out to her competitors in order to set a precedent for sharing information about sketchy users, so if she gets a report about misbehavior she can send an alert to get him or her banned from other sites. Incidents like this hurt the entire market as well as individual users, she said.
Some kind of data sharing would be a great thing for this industry as they are all vulnerable to the same problems (theft, etc...).
Banks do this today with their info sharing through ChexSystems. I've seen banks that will report their current account holders for the most trivial violations. The result being that the account holder can't open an account anywhere else.
In the United States, if you make a good faith claim about someone, it's pretty hard to win a libel suit, and, I suspect, it would be even harder to claim that grading an individual rises to the level of slander/libel, particularly if you provide a mechanism to challenge the claims.
If this were not the cases, then credit rating agencies would have a difficult time existing.
As it stands, the operation of such agencies is subject to a lot of specific regulation.
Put up that sign, implement the described policy, receive disproportionate numbers of complaints about blacks (because landlords are racist?), enforce the described policy equally irrespective of race, and you are walking a fine line. You could be sued for that and might not be fine.
here in LA it's impossible to walk into a bar or restaurant and not see that sign.
but yes, i see your point too.
This doesn't even touch libel laws, and it certainly wouldn't be a _group_ culpability if there's one purveyor out there intentionally spreading malicious lies about some private person.
No, they profit much better by making sure Vegas is a thriving place with many casinos. If they DID manage to drive out all the other casinos, nobody would go to Vegas because it only had 1 casino!
Instead, it's much better to work together and share knowledge of the people who would rip them off.
One of the applications of Proofnet is a decentralized web-of-trust where you can send out a scammer alert by giving someone a trust rating of 0 and broadcast that message with very high proof-of-work. See some more info on those efforts here:
But in this case, and probably any that follow it, it's extremely unlikely they used/will use their own details or credit cards.
You rent a house for a week when the owners aren't using it. Often the key's in a combo box or they mail it to you. The only real protection is a security deposit which you pay upfront. The concept has been around for ages.
AirBnb democratized the process by allowing anyone to rent out any portion of their property, contributing to supply and more competitive pricing, but with this set up you get into weird situations where owner's valuables and jewelry end up in the next room.
The present "wave of disruption" sweeping the world is based on finding ways to use resources more efficiently by changing social divisions. Even if Airbnb in particular now crashes and burns, there's so much potential savings in the airbnb model that people will continue to sweep away the earlier divisions in some fashion.
Airbnb and others have you sharing your primary residence, which puts it at risk if you are not also there. (and perhaps even if you are).
The business idea is proven, AirBnB is just leveraging technology to stake out a significant market share.
Nothing wrong with this at all.
There have been online vacation property rental sites for years.
AirBNB, however, sells itself as a mechanism for making some extra cash on your own actual day-to-day residence.
AirBnB caters to shorter, less formal stays than a normal rental site. It also presents a much improved User experience. It also implies that you can get in on this game if you don't actually own the property, but whether or not you can legally do this is up to you to know, not AirBnb.
It matters in terms of security. If you're using the property, that either means that you have a considerable amount of personal information and valuables on-site, or that you'll have to take them off-site to secure them.
If the property is a dedicated vacation home, then this will generally not be the case, and coupled with deposits, property insurance, etc, the risk to the owner is significantly reduced.
Good luck getting property insurance on an apartment you sublet.
That has nothing to do with AirBnB, or anything particular about their business model.
This of course supposes that the AirBnB guys handle the rest of this right.
If they fuck this up, they won't "come out stronger", they'll come out with a sufficiently heavy PR backlash that people won't use them anymore. And that'll be that. As it stands now, the only thing people are hearing are negative things about AirBnB, and unless they take huge steps to fix that, there's going to be a lot of people who won't touch them with a 10 foot pole.
It's bad for airbnb, but shouldn't be a killer. From my point of view, my only surprise is that it didn't happen sooner.
But logic rarely matters when you're trying to be alarmist.
is ironic when you're saying
I wouldn't be surprised to see this picked up and used as a reason to push that internet browsing history law , or some other net neutrality thing.
Couchsurfing apparently has someone capable of logical thinking on staff. The round trip of verifying an address adds real security.
In the end, many people who were never going to use AirBnB to begin with will feel more certain in their (probably wise) decision, and many new people who will be open to the idea will now have heard of it for the first time.
Nobody has /ever/ asked me for ID. "Key is in the lockbox, here is the code! Have fun!" is the typical greeting.
In fact, every time I've gotten a place through AirBnB, the owner met me in person. Of course, I always rent higher priced places (I look for places nicer than a hotel for the same price).
Steganography/image manipulation is an arms race but you'll keep the low end fake IDs out. At some point in the race master criminals are going to go for higher value targets than random apartments on AirBnB. And... problem solved.
But, even since the beginning, their focus has been on security. I suspect that this is the advantage of having a female CEO / Founder. She grokked that as a potential problem from the very beginning.
Jen O'Neil, is one of the most fantastic young CEO's I know. The whole team is simply amazing.
That said, I'm more concerned with "email a scanned photo ID". Are they seriously having users send scanned IDs through email? Email is completely insecure and should NEVER be used for sensitive information such as an ID. IDs should be treated in the same manner as credit cards. Would you ever ask a customer to email you scans of their credit card? You'd lose your merchant account faster than you can say law suit.
AirBnB's fiasco is not a long-term benefit for their direct competitors either.
EDIT: Let me elaborate: Firms compete among themselves in a given field and all's fair in this competition. However, when the whole industry is threatened, you should gather forces, or else not to try to make your competitor look bad, because that will rub on you. Well-known example is the tobacco industry (their PR is relatively unified). If the consumer's trust in the whole industry is shaken (as in AirBnB) then it doesn't matter you are better than your competitors in this or that regard, people don't care.
It doesn't, for example, deal with stolen identity. A recently stolen card+ID would bypass all of those protections, and easily lead to a quick buck for meth-lab operations (which is what EJ's situation sounds like it was).
What AirBnB and others should do is to gather statistical analysis on how often such things occur, what's the cost, etc. and make this widely known.
In fact this could be additional revenue for AirBnB: offer different levels of protection for $N extra (a la car rental companies, they love to sell you protection, or Best Buy, where the employees pester you continuously about protection.) When life gives you lemons, lick them, i.e. don;t run away, embrace the difficulty.
In the end bad things will always happen but you have to know that the company you use will protect you when it happens. No protection, no business.
If this really was a case of some kind of mobile meth-lab operation, shouldn't we expect a number of other cases like this going on with airbnb rentals?
I suspect one of the reasons that airbnb was slow to reimburse EJ is that details are so bizarre on the surface. I think the hotel industry conspiracy theories are absurd. But I am curious to find out what was really go on in that apartment for a week whatever it was.
My parents' rental house which got used as a methlab when the original tenants left without notice (and apparently left it open). Some of the imagery seemed familiar.
Conspiracy theories aside, I'm sure most folks familiar with airbnb were wondering when this moment would occur, and what the response would be.
Is that bad though? If people don't trust this type of service, why do we act like thats a bad thing and hotels are evil for it?
When first AirBnb heard about this, they could've
a.) Choose to protect her and other users from future incidents
b.) Hide and hope it goes away
If they choose a, 5 weeks ago, they would've already either changed the business process, or blogged about it to their community to warn them of danger (heck, the perp hasn't been caught/IDed yet).
But because nothing was done, the fact that they kept outputting PR responses, and offered no tangible amount/receipt/proof that they helped her, tells me that AirBnb is all about the $1 billion valuation. Nothing more.
Yea, when you open up your house for people you don't know, it can happen that you will get it trashed (honestly I am surprised this is the first time that it happened).
The AirBnb fiasco is totally different- it's not the errant actions of a CEO (although they hardly helped), it's an exposure of danger in the core of AirBnb's product.
- former CEO of a startup that got some bad press
— My anecdotal evidence is loud
— Mine is even louder!!!
"We don't want to trade security for volume" == "Your screw up is our marketing"
As someone else noted, I'd never heard of this company before, but now I have. Currently my only real impression is that they're NY focused and are security conscious. I think they'll take that introduction.
For many observers, airbnb debacle is the first exposure they have to the online personal rental market. Roomarama is trying to remind people that the industry as a whole is not broken (it's airbnb being screwy, not the entire business model). And if they get positive marketing from it, c'est la vie.
I would agree with that statement in a much more mature industry, but in this new area its easy for ill opinion of a firm to translate to ill opinion of the industry as a whole.
Whether or not that is a sincere claim, I think it's saying they are the antithesis of "by any means necessary", more like "we have a set of (conscientious) principles to guide us".
Airbnb definitely screwed up here, but she just sounds like a professional victim. Lots of homes get burglarized every day. On a smaller scale, everyone probably had a car broken into at least once. Yes, it feels bad. Very bad. But it's not THAT BAD. Not on a scale when you expect someone to inquire about your "emotional state, safety, or well-being" a month after it happened. Airbnb's handling of this case is a big failure, but it's not fair to blame them for someone being so damn sensitive.
Let's face it, she didn't do it out of sheer goodness of her heart. She did it for money. Letting strangers into your home does and always will involve some risk. If you're so vulnerable that you can't possibly take that risk - don't do it, period. It's simply not the right way for you to earn a quick buck.