Last week Forbes posted an article about Airbnb losing its way and not understanding the basic economic principles that made it popular in the first place.
It was swiftly removed:
Who knows why they removed the article... perhaps pressure from Airbnb. Anyway, using Google Cache, I was able to pull the original article for your enjoyment.
The Original "Airbnb Hypocrisy" article
The management team at Airbnb appears to have lost its way as it doesn’t seem to understand the basic economic principles that made the company and its offering to consumers great in the first place.
Companies like Amazon, Alphabet, Netflix, Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, and Twitter have disrupted traditional means of doing business. We are witnessing an economic revolution, led by these companies, that is making the economy more efficient and consumer friendly. As transformative as these companies can be, they are not without fault when they make mistakes or exhibit hypocrisy.
It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the Airbnb’s management team, which includes Chris Lehane, a former top adviser to the Clinton White House; Billy Hyers, a former staffer for Barack Obama and Martin O’Malley; and Eric Holder, the former Democrat Attorney General who shares a special relationship with President Obama. As if that wasn’t enough to paint the picture, the CEO of Airbnb publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, which as we know was less than friendly to free markets and a less regulated society.
With standard-bearer Democrat figureheads like these, it is little wonder that Airbnb is at odds with the virtues of capitalism and free enterprise. What is shocking though is that the company can’t even seem to grasp supply and demand, the foundation of microeconomics that every successful company is dependent upon.
Last October, Airbnb head of global policy Chris Lehane issued a letter to Michael Barnello, the CEO of LaSalle Hotel Properties, urging him to stop raising the prices of his hotel rooms.
“What are you current policies as they relate to compression pricing, commonly referred to as price-gouging?” Lehane asked. “Will you unequivocally pledge to ban any and all price-gouging at your hotels?”
Clearly, Lehane and his colleagues at Airbnb were having a tough time understanding that in a supply-demand drive world sometimes prices need to rise in order to match demand. It’s one of the pressure valves that helps ensure supply-demand imbalances don’t occur in the market.
The funniest thing is that Airbnb leadership fails to see (or at least acknowledge) that their renters are doing exactly what the management team is cautioning hotels chains like LaSalle from doing.
Take the upcoming inauguration in Washington, D.C. Yes, due to an overwhelming amount of Americans gearing up for the excitement of Trump, the average price of a 3-star hotel in the District has risen from $175 to $774. But things are no different in the sharing economy. The average Airbnb nightly rate for a stay last week was just $176. Now, the average cost has skyrocketed to $1,027, an increase of over 483 percent. One Airbnb listing was even checked out at a whopping $10,000 a night. According to Paul Bedard at the Washington Examiner, some rents for the Trump inauguration have soared by 1900%.
Of course, you’ll never hear Airbnb complain about their own renters’ alleged “price gouging.” The free market suits their interests in this regard, so their lips remain sealed. Nor will you ever hear Airbnb complain about a large portion of their renters being exempt from the burdensome lodging taxes that all hotels are required to pay.
Yet, when the government enacts protectionist laws that harm Airbnb, such as New York’s recent law against short-term rentals, the company couldn’t be more vocal. In that case, the company filed a federal lawsuit and cried that the regulations will “impose significant immediate burdens and irreparable harm on Airbnb.”
Airbnb can’t have it both ways. The business can’t rely on the free market for its own business purposes and then turn around and try to crush those same rights and principles for its competitors. Very few companies, no matter how successful in the short-term, have lasted while engaging in such brazen acts of hypocrisy.