Saturday, January 18, 2014

Micro-Entrepreneurship, The New Disruptive Paradigm: Governments And Established Businesses Fight Airbnb Existence And Growth

From The Wall Street Journal, "Brian Chesky: The 'Sharing Economy' and Its Enemies: The cofounder of Airbnb on how an idea to rent space on air mattresses turned into a Web business that has hotel chains fuming and politicians suspicious." by Andy Kessler:
The sharing economy is still so new, Mr. [Brian] Chesky [co-founder of Airbnb], says, that his company is lobbying cities around the world to account for it. Sometimes Airbnb loses: Berlin passed a law that, beginning this year, requires a permit for short-term rentals, or hosts are forced to pay a stiff fine. The law won't kill Airbnb in Berlin, but it will impede the free-flowing nature of the business.

'We're not against regulation, we want fair regulation," Mr. Chesky says. "We're trying to help take this from an activity that existed under the table with Craigslist and bring it out of the shadows. We want to work with cities to streamline the process for hosts to pay occupancy taxes," he says. "People ask, 'Why don't you just pay the tax?' Well, it turns out that in cities like New York, you can't just pay the tax, you can't just send them a briefcase of money, you have to change the laws first. Onerous licensing and permitting are designed for large corporations"—not for Airbnb users.

"I want to live in a world where people can become entrepreneurs or micro-entrepreneurs and if we can lower the friction and inspire them to do that, especially in an economy like today, this is the promise of the sharing economy," says Mr. Chesky. For regulators, he has a request: "Don't kill something wonderful before knowing what it is."

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