In late May, Y Combinator-backed start-up AirBnB, which just raised a monster at a $1 billion plus valuation, was revealed to be using what many consider a black hat technique: relentlessly crawling Craigslist for vacation properties and emailing the posters on these listings to suggest they use AirBnB instead.
The company apologized for the spamming, stating that it was the work of independent contractors who had been let go. “The Craigslist thing is unethical and against Craigslist’s rules but not, as far as anyone can tell, illegal. It’s sad and bad and not to be encouraged.” This was “not a tactic we condone or endorse” and “our policy to forbid such actions,” said AirBnB.
But AirBnB wasn’t about to stop leveraging Craigslists massive classified platform, by far the largest in the world. In fact they have automated the process for users, creating a “promote” button that exports AirBnB posts directly to Craigslist. Read More