Sharing is Caring
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.
Baby I Can Drive Your Car
A Russian porn website is infecting people’s computers with malware that overtakes their systems to mine for Bitcoins. (Pretty sure that’s the most Internetty sentence in history.) PCWorld reports that the malware (called “Fareit”) has been circulating for the past six months and only affects Windows computers.
Do It For Me
Well, here’s one way to cover the exorbitant cost of a parking space in New York City: peer-to-peer car-sharing marketplace RelayRides just announced a big partnership with General Motors and OnStar, meant to make it easier for drivers to rent out their idle vehicles, Airbnb-style.
That is, if you can convince yourself to trust a complete stranger with your car.
RelayRides announced today that OnStar subscribers can now leverage the system to make renting out their cars simpler. Renters will be able to unlock OnStar-equipped cars using only their mobile phones, a.k.a. the one device most of us are practically guaranteed never to lose.
Back in December, Bo Fishback, CEO of the peer-to-peer marketplace Zaarly, which lets you buy and sell products and services from the people around you, told Betabeat that Zaarly planned to grow its presence in New York City from two full-time employees up to 10 or possibly 30 new staffers.
For the Kansas City-based company, which has raised $15.1 million in a little over a year since it launched, it was a signal of how important New York was both as a market and testing ground. “We hope to learn what we need to know from the New York community to help us go to scale in other cities,” Mr. Fishback told us at the time, along with the news that local staff would be moving into Marc Ecko’s building at 40 West 23rd Street. Mr. Ecko is an investor, along with Ashton Kutcher, Michael Arrington, Crunchfund, and Kleiner Perkins.
But earlier today Betabeat was informed that Zaarly was closing down its New York office. “I’ve heard it’s gone,” said a source. Mr. Fishback confirmed the news, but said it was, “not really intended to be a big deal, and mostly just temporary moves,” he responded by email.
Do It For Me
Betabeat is a sucker for a good Madonna reference, but Material Wrld, a New York-based fashion startup that launched yesterday, caught our eye for another reason. When we first met cofounder Jie Zheng–we sat next to each other at 500 Startups Demo Day last September–she was still in the corporate world, working as international director of ecommerce at J.Crew. “Sure enough, startup fever got ahold of me,” Ms. Zheng told Betabeat. Ah, it’s so rare that you’re actually present for the moment the infection sets in!
Material Wrld is a peer-to-peer ecommerce site that Ms. Zheng calls “a prettier and friendlier eBay with social features.” Like eBay, the company offers a chance to turn the back of your closet into ca$$h money, only in this case its more front-of-closet and fancy.
Besides having the most amazingly made-up name we have seen in a while, Shpoonkle is an interesting addition to the new crop of startups focused on creating a peer to peer online marketplace. Betabeat’s Nitasha Tiku just did a big report on the convenience economy fueled by companies like TaskRabbit and Zaarly. Schpoonkle is also looking to match supply and demand, but with a focus on the growing number of unemployed law school graduates.