Airbnb now legal to operate in San Francisco

8 Oct 2014

Airbnb founders: Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky

Despite being one of the most compelling growth stories of our time, community-driven hospitality site Airbnb has been prohibited from operating in its home city of San Francisco, California, until now.

Last night, the city’s board of supervisors voted to legalise and regulate Airbnb’s business model of short stays.

The decision is controversial in light of ongoing housing shortages in San Francisco, rising rents, gentrification issues and other factors that are forcing out long-term residents of the city.

Key rules include a limit on private or non-hosted rentals for up to 90 days per year.

A public registry will also be established and hosts will be expected to pay a US$50 fee.

Airbnb – founded by Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia – began out of an apartment in San Francisco as a kind of B&B and the only asset the company had was an air mattress.

Airbnb has since grown into a global online colossus that enables savvy travellers to rent rooms in private dwellings rather than hotels. Earlier this year, the company was valued at US$10bn when it closed a US$500m funding round.

Airbnb has just established a major Hospitality Lab in Dublin, where it will grow employment from 100 people to 200 people this year.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years