The future of Airbnb in cities


Since its founding, in 2008, Airbnb has spearheaded growth of the sharing economy by allowing thousands of people around the world to rent their homes or spare rooms. Yet while as many as 425,000 people now stay in Airbnb-listed homes on a peak night, the company’s growth is shadowed by laws that clash with its ethos of allowing anyone, including renters, to sell access to their spaces. In this interview with McKinsey’s Rik Kirkland, Airbnb cofounder and CEO Brian Chesky explores how the company’s relationships with cities can evolve. An edited transcript of Chesky’s comments follows.
 Interview transcript
 Starting a revolution
 It’s a currency of trust, and that used to live only with a business. Only businesses could be trusted, or people in your local community. Now, that trust has been democratized—any person can act like a brand.
 Airbnb is a way that you can, when you’re traveling, book a home anywhere around the world. And by anywhere, I mean 34,000 cities in 190 countries. That’s every country but North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Cuba.
 The reason we started was I was living with my roommate, Joe, in San Francisco, and I couldn’t afford to make rent. That weekend, the International Design Conference was coming to San Francisco. All the hotels were sold out. Joe had three air beds. We pulled the air beds out of the closet, we inflated them, and we called it the “Air Bed and Breakfast.”

Stoughton, Berlin & Copenhagen

“Norwegian shares the same dialect as Danish”. “I will speak Norwegian with someone if you like.”

Building a name, a brand, a product, particularly one that resonates and has legs for the long haul, is work, a great deal of work. It includes playing on a pleasant Sunday evening in Stoughton, for perhaps 200 people.

The venue was built for Agnes Obel.

“Stoughton. I read in Wikipedia that it was settled by Norwegians.”

I listen to Los Angeles’s KCRW occasionally. Some years ago – ah, it was June, 2011, Agnes Obel appeared on their signature show: “Morning Becomes Eclectic”. I found her music interesting and bought a few tracks.

“This is our first time in Wisconsin.”

Glancing through Madison’s “alternative weekly” Isthmus last week, Obel’s name appeared on the upcoming events list. Sunday night. Stoughton. Opera House. Sure.

Obel’s music is not for everyone.

Yet, finding Stoughton, WI listed on her current tour along with Toronto, Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, Cambridge, Montreal, Quebec City, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne tells us ….. something.

I suspect she will be back, playing a larger venue. Oh, Lyle Lovett played at Madison’s Overture Center Sunday evening. $35.50 to $56.00. Obel’s $11 to $22 in Stoughton was the better value. I say that as a fan of both.

Godspeed to Obel’s entourage.

A panorama and a few photos follow:

A line in history: the east German punks behind the Berlin Wall’s most radical art stunt

Philip Oltermann:

On Monday 3 November 1986, a group of five masked men drew a white line on the Berlin wall. The line started at Mariannenplatz in the capital’s alternative Kreuzberg district, heading west via the Checkpoint Charlie border crossing in the city centre. At points, the line was so thick the paint dripped all the way to the bottom. Where police guarded the wall, it ran thinner, snaking down to the pavement and then back up.
 After around 5km (three miles), just south of the Brandenburg Gate, opposite the square that now hosts architect Peter Eisenman’s Holocaust memorial, the line suddenly stopped. At 11:30 on Tuesday morning, border guards from the eastern side of the wall had ambushed the line-painters and put an end to their project.

Thanks to crony capitalism—the unholy alliance between business and government, in which the taxpayer gets bilked—the NFL has “created what amounts to a risk-free business environment.”

Michael Vallo

A chapter on the NFL’s business practices should make even the most ardent pigskin fan bristle. Thanks to crony capitalism—the unholy alliance between business and government, in which the taxpayer gets bilked—the NFL has “created what amounts to a risk-free business environment.” Almond provides plenty of blood-boiling examples, like the NFL’s tax-exempt status—unique among major sports leagues—and the now commonplace arrangement that sees taxpayers fund NFL stadiums while team owners reap the economic rewards. The New Orleans Saints even receive an “inducement payment” of up to $6 million a year just to keep the franchise in the city. That’s on top of the $200 million that taxpayers forked over for renovating the Mercedes-Benz Superdome—they will see none of $50 million to $60 million the team received in naming rights from the car maker.
 Other chapters aren’t as strong. A chapter on race doesn’t seem fully fleshed out and lists uncomfortable questions about race and football rather than going into detail. And the connection between football and violence against women only gets four pages at the end of a chapter focusing on homophobia. The sorry history of sexual and domestic violence in high school, college, and professional football programs deserves more attention.
 The thought of any large-scale exodus of fans is unlikely. TV ratings are up again this season from already astronomical levels. The continued popularity, as Almond points out, is due in part to the way the sports media promote rather than cover the game. “Sports represent one of the few growth sectors for the corporate media,” he observes. “It’s far more profitable to cover football as a glorious diversion than a sobering news story.”

Facebook Wants You to Vote on Tuesday. Here’s How It Messed With Your Feed in 2012.

Micah Sifry:

On Election Day, political campaigns, candidates, consultants, and pollsters pay close attention to who votes and why—and so does Facebook. For the past six years, on every national Election Day, the social-networking behemoth has pushed out a tool—a high-profile button that proclaims “I’m Voting” or “I’m a Voter”—designed to encourage Facebook users to vote. Now, Facebook says it has finished fine-tuning the tool, and if all goes according to plan, on Tuesday many of its more than 150 million American users will feel a gentle but effective nudge to vote, courtesy of Mark Zuckerberg & Co. If past research is any guide, up to a few million more people will head to the polls partly because their Facebook friends encouraged them.
 Yet the process by which Facebook has developed this tool—what the firm calls the “voter megaphone”—has not been very transparent, raising questions about its use and Facebook’s ability to influence elections. Moreover, while Facebook has been developing and promoting this tool, it has also been quietly conducting experiments on how the company’s actions can affect the voting behavior of its users.
 In particular, Facebook has studied how changes in the news feed seen by its users—the constant drip-drip-drip of information shared by friends that is heart of their Facebook experience—can affect their level of interest in politics and their likelihood of voting. For one such experiment, conducted in the three months prior to Election Day in 2012, Facebook increased the amount of hard news stories at the top of the feeds of 1.9 million users. According to one Facebook data scientist, that change—which users were not alerted to—measurably increased civic engagement and voter turnout.

Miraculous Friends

Genuine, remarkable and fascinating friends have miraculously intersected with our lives.

The panoramas and photos that follow illustrate a delightful, but too short visit with wonderful friends. Simply so much to be thankful for.

The beauty of God’s creation was simply stunning on a sunny fall day.


Tap to view a larger still image:

Left Coast Cellars.

A Homecoming DUKW (Duck) Appearance

The photo was taken at the University of Wisconsin’s 2014 Homecoming parade.

The Wisconsin Dells & the DUKW:

For over 50 years amphibious DUCKS have been the most unique means of touring Wisconsin Dells’ famous rock formations. The DUCKS got their start from a Milwaukee man named Melvin H. Flath. Prior to starting the Duck tour in Wisconsin Dells, Melvin owned a trucking business on 2nd St. in Milwaukee. Right after WWII, Melvin read about some surplus trucks for auction in California. He wanted one, so he journeyed the 2,000 miles at great financial risk to buy some needed trucks for his business. Upon arriving in California, Melvin saw that the trucks being auctioned were the amphibious trucks (DUCKS) and not anything he had envisioned. His disappointment turned to adventure and against all common sense he bought a DUCK.

Two weeks later, Melvin drove the first olive drab half truck/half boat into his Milwaukee neighborhood. The neighbors as well as Melvin’s pregnant wife and three children came out to greet him. He was received, but not with open arms. Everyone made fun of Melvin for wasting good money on a hunk of junk that he could use for what?

Melvin didn’t know at that time what he was going to use his DUCK for. Despite the adversities, he carried on and bought some used Milwaukee bus seats which he installed in the DUCK. He took his buddies with him on it’s maiden voyage out into Lake Michigan. Melvin had never owned a boat before and wasn’t aware it had plugs, so his first splish-splash was almost his last. He made it to shore and quickly learned that this was no ordinary 2 1/2 ton truck.


The DUKW (colloquially known as Duck) is a six-wheel-drive modification of the 2-ton capacity “deuce” trucks used by the U.S. military in World War II amphibious truck, designed by a partnership under military auspices of Sparkman & Stephens and General Motors Corporation (GMC) for transporting goods and troops over land and water, and approaching and crossing beaches in amphibious attacks. Designed only to last long enough to meet the demands of combat, DUKWs were later used as tourist craft in marine environments.

Blogging + 20

Fellow UW-Madison graduate Dave Winer mused on 20 years of blogging recently. The prototypical blogger, and perhaps the most human of all, Dave is always a pleasure to read. I would be remiss to mention that he throws a great party, beginning for me, with the early “bloggercon’s”. Dinner with Jay Rosen, a discussion of left vs right coast academic politics with Lessig and a shared cab ride with Adam Curry.


Dave’s “edit this page” concept has spawned so much content, from “big pub’s” such as recode and theverge to interesting niches including the strobist and John Robb.

Further, Dave’s launch of the blog has led many (Americans) to exercise their first amendment right to freedom of speech. That, imho, is Dave’s legacy for the rest of us. One that could not be more timely, in light of the endless efforts to trample on the Constitution.

Michael Bloomberg recently uttered: “I think we are trading our privacy and personal freedoms for convenience and pleasure. And that’s a legitimate decision we make”. [See Moglen’s lectures]

On a more personal note, Dave’s work lead to the creation of powerful reading and publishing software, from RSS to numerous blog platforms (or, to use the more “modern” term: content management systems). Such tools have enabled me to keep a personal blog for ten plus years along with The latter served as a platform for local advocacy.

Godspeed to Dave.