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Airbnb is an online marketplace where users can rent, rate and review housing properties for short-term lodging in locations worldwide.
In October 2007, entrepreneurs Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia initially came up with the concept of the Airbnb site during a conference held by the Industrial Designers Society of America. In February 2008, technical architect Nathan Blecharczyk joined the team as a third co-founder. On August 11th, the site Airbedandbreakfast.com was launched, which initially focused on providing accommodations near large-scale events. As a promotion for the site, special edition presidential candidate breakfast cereals were sold for $40 each, raising the company more than $30,000.
In January 2009, the founders were invited to join the Y Combinator’s incubator for three months of training and given a $20,000 investment. In March, the site domain was shortened to Airbnb.com and was expanded to provide accommodations for a wide variety of properties. In November 2010, the site raised $7.2 million in Series A funding. By February 2011, one million listings were booked on the site. In May, the German competitor site Accoleo was acquired by Airbnb, launching the company’s first international office.
On the same day the Tumblr blog airbnblogo, which features the logo altered in humorous ways, was created. In the following days several websites posted lists poking fun at the new logo including Buzzfeed’s “18 Things That Look Like The New Airbnb Logo,” which suggests it looks like a vagina and ABC News’ “6 Things Airbnb’s New Logo Looks Like” which rounded up altered logos from Twitter.
On July 17th, at a party at Verdi Club in San Francisco, California, Airbnb’s chief technology officer Nathan Blecharczyk defended the logo, saying:
““It’s just like: Go ahead, laugh all you want, guys. We wouldn’t want to design a logo that caters to the lowest common denominator. This was a yearlong undertaking for dozens of people, it’s something meaningful, and no one pauses to really understand that.”
Airbnb users create profiles as either a “host” or a “guest” using official government issued identification. Accounts have the ability to place properties up for rental, post reviews, ratings and establish social connections with other users.
You’re Gonna Die Here
On May 13th, 2014, the single topic blog “You’re Gonna Die Here” was launched on Tumblr, which highlights unsettling and disturbing photographs from Airbnb listings. The same day, several examples from the blog were highlighted on Gawker.
In October 2013, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a subpoena to Airbnb demanding data for 225,000 New Yorkers registered on the site as part of an investigation into residents illegal renting properties in the state. On May 13th, 2014, the State Supreme Court struck down the subpoena for being overly broad.
On March 15th, 2014, comedian Ari Teman published an open letter to Airbnb titled “Dear Airbnb, No thank you for the XXX Freak Fest” on his Tumblr blog, which explained how he discovered that a man named David had organized an orgy at his apartment after renting it on Airbnb. After becoming suspicious about the renter, Teman searched the provided phone number on Google and found a tweet advertising a “freak fest” at his apartment building. In the coming days, the story was reported on by several news sites, including Gawker, The Huffington Post, New York Post, The Daily Mail and Time.
As of May 2014, Airbnb.com has a global rank of 1,418 and a United States rank of 581 on the traffic analytics site Alexa.
The Huffington Post – Man Who Rented His Home on Airbnb Returns to Find an Orgy
The Daily Dot – There’s a Tumblr devoted to remixing Airbnb’s sexy new logo