Four years after inventing a crafty marketplace for spaces — couches, castles et al. — San Francisco-based startup Airbnb has helped travelers book more than 10 million nights (likely to the chagrin of landlords everywhere).
Founded in 2008, then called AirBed and Breakfast, Airbnb has gone from a site for budget-conscious travelers to a much more full-fledged web and mobile service where people can list and book expansive spaces such as entire homes and even islands.
Today, Airbnb lists more than 200,000 properties spread across 19,000 cities and 192 countries. The young company has survived its fair share of drama, amassing $120 million in funding for a valuation of $1.3 billion in the process.
As the people-powered counter to the hospitality and travel industry, Airbnb has become a service that people turn to to book a night of travel every two seconds. In the past five months alone, the startup has doubled-up on guest nights booked, jumping from five to 10 million nights booked in record time. Demand for Airbnb accommodations in the U.S. has increased 240 percent in the last year, the company said.
The stats are of note, especially considering that last summer the startup was smarting from a scandal that exposed the consequences of renting out your personal space to strangers. At the time, Airbnb user “EJ” penned a tell-all blog post about returning home to find her place ransacked by Airbnb renters. The startup has since instated a $1 million host guarantee policy that reimburses members for property damage.
But not everyone loves the convenience of Airbnb, which is often used by renters as a way to sublet extra space for extra cash. Every few months, a story pops up about a landlord cracking down on tenants for renting out their properties, an activity that can turn into a legal quagmire for some members.