Airbnb and Me
Uh oh—we knew Airbnb was kinda sketchy, legally, but we also just learned that its landlords might face a bunch of racial discrimination from its renters.
Unlike with other online marketplaces, like eBay or Amazon, Airbnb’s design incorporates large profile pictures of its sellers. That design feature led Harvard Business School Professors Benjamin Edelman and Michael Luca to conduct a study called “Digital Discrimination: The Case of Airbnb.com,” wherein they evaluated how the race, gender, age and appearance of a landlord affected the prices of comparable listings in New York City.
Uber is pissed at the person who leaked internal revenue figures to Valleywag, but didn’t deny that it makes millions. [AllThingsD]
Even creator Ev Williams is still figuring out what Medium should be. Hopefully the redesign helps? [Fast Company]
On Cyber Monday, Pinterest nearly tripled the revenue on retail sites that it sent traffic to. [TechCrunch]
Here’s what happens when you use bitcoins to purchase gifts on your Christmas list: you commission a portrait of your cat. [Time]
Airbnb’s new San Francisco headquarters have mini apartments influenced by major cities, like Bali and Paris. [PSFK]
Until Snapchat fesses up, we’re never going to know how many snaps are actually sent a day. [BuzzFeed]
Included in the refreshed Twitter app are wonky new animations, new search features and news about trending television shows. [TechCrunch]
Smart Apartments, better known as one of the city’s most “notorious” Airbnb landlords, settled a lawsuit with New York City yesterday. It has to shut down and pay a $1 million penalty. [Skift]
Get excited for Amazon-branded grocery items as the company continues its quest for world domination. [AllThingsD]
Google Glass is now open to developers, so porn? [CNet]
Bitcoin licenses for sellers might become a thing that exists in New York. The state is going to soon start holding hearings about regulating the digital currency. [The Verge]
Dan Porter said ominously that he “knew it was our time” to sell OMGPop to Zynga before it was taken out back and essentially shot. [New York Times]
Over the next six months, Google is improving the blockage of child porn using technology that tags pictures and keywords as illegal. [Telegraph]
Apple is close to snapping up Israeli company PrimeSense, which developed the technology behind Kinect. [Digital Trends]
OK: “Watch Airbnb’s Chef Rap About Food at a Hackthon.” [TechCrunch]
Bless his heart
This week, Amazon will introduce Sunday delivery via USPS in New York and Los Angeles. [Los Angeles Times]
Vox Media picked up the Curbed family of websites (including Eater) for an estimated $20 to $30 million in a mix of cash and stock. [New York Times]
Apple is rumored to be developing two new, curved phones that range from 4.7 to 5.5 inches which is a perfectly FINE size. [Bloomberg]
Netflix and YouTube now account for nearly half of your broadband service during primetime. Notably, Hulu and Amazon trail far behind. [AllThingsD]
The most interesting part of this story is that of course Airbnb has a Head of Global Hospitality position. [Skift]
XXX in Tech
When Joshua Bocanegra created a landing page for a new app called LoveRoom, he wasn’t expecting to receive 900 potential members’ email addresses, or any online press attention, but he did. We covered it (noting that it wouldn’t be live for a few months), as did a few others. But yesterday, Forbes insisted that LoveRoom was fake, and bad at being fake to boot.
Forbes charged that the Airbnb-esque platform was nothing more than an idea before it was “willed into existence by journalists.” But its founder told us today he’s been planning a dating site for months.
Mr. Bocanegra responded to the hoopla with a post on–what else?–Medium. This afternoon, he emailed us a link to the treatise, entitled “LoveRoom Is Real.” It links to another piece by him entitled, Read More
Sharing is Caring
Airbnb users who are sick of hosting uggos will be pleased to learn there’s a new startup in town whose goal is to let temporary tenants and landlords match up with hotties they’d like to bang.
Specifically, LoveRoom is “a platform where single people from all around the world can rent their living space to others they find attractive,” founder Joshua Bocanegra told us. “If you like using Airbnb and you like using Tinder, you’ll really like LoveRoom.”
What could possibly go wrong?
When Lawyers Send Letters
After notching a victory in the case of host Nigel Warren, locking down the legality of hosting while you’re still on the premises, Airbnb is dealing with another legal challenge from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He wants data on 15,000 local hosts, saying it’s necessary to determine unpaid hotel taxes and root out illegal hotel operators on the platform. The company is fighting the subpoena as, they say, too broad.
In the meantime, public policy head David Hantman convened a presser at General Assembly to tout how much the startup is contributing to the economy of New York City. Between the sternly upbeat tone and the stack of printed pamphlets, it felt like a visit from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Guess AirBnB’s legal headaches aren’t over just quite yet. The New York Daily News says that the state’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman (last seen busting up the fake Yelp review cartel), has subpoenaed user data
for the 225,000 New Yorkers on Airbnb for all local hosts (the precise number isn’t clear).
He’s reportedly investigating violates of a 2010 state law against short-term apartment rentals. The idea is to go after those renting out to drunk French kids every weekend, but it’s not really clear where the line between “bad actor” and “power user” sits.
Can you smell the excitement that is Advertising Week? Twitter can! It’s set to announce a flurry of television-related ad products as the company continues to tart itself up prior to going public. [Wall Street Journal]
Watching people hack into the new iPhone’s fingerprint sensor is the new unboxing video. [MacRumors]
AngelList, the casual connection meeting place between investors and entrepreneurs, raised $24 million. [Fortune]
Just like a real company, Airbnb has tapped an ad agency for an upcoming campaign. [AdAge]
The JOBS Act goes into effect today, allowing startups to ask for funding on social media and crowdfunding sites. [New York Times]