Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky speaks in San Francisco on April 19, 2016. Airbnb is trying to change the narrative. For so long, the nearly nine-year-old home-sharing platform pushed for growth by barging into new markets and new cities around the world, regulations be damned. So the news that the company agreed this week to settle its lawsuit against the City of San Francisco seems jarring. Has Airbnb had a change of heart? Is it finally becoming a good neighbor in the cities it’s strong-armed? Or did the company just realize San Francisco was a fight it was destined to lose?
The answer, as with most things, is more nuanced. San Francisco is not Airbnb’s biggest market, not by a long shot, which means anything Airbnb does there likely won’t change the company’s bottom line. But San Francisco is the leading symbol of the global tech boom, the hub of a region that has arguably generated more wealth than any other place in human history. Neighborhoods have gentrified rapidly over the past decade as newly moneyed techies put roots down in the city, sending the city spiraling into a housing affordability crisis. And that’s a narrative into which Airbnb […]