Listen: Airbnb, United States, Brian Chest Ski Airbnb discussed on The Journal.
"Doc last Halloween at a house in Arinda California outside of San Francisco so there was a mass shooting. The House has been rented out on the home sharing service AIRBNB and the people who rented it threw a big party right right away that evening things started kind of going wrong. There is an incident with like one of the party goers hours running into a neighbor's car it was just loud and crazy and the neighbors were getting really concerned. That's tech reporter Kirsten Grind and and then all of a sudden the neighbor started hearing gunshots. These gone man just came into this party and started shooting and at the end of that five people had died. It was a terrible tragedy was very clear from today's news conference. That party. That large should have never taken place at that house. According to that after the shooting it came out that there had been prior complaints about the property. Police said even warned the owners not to allow guests to have parties there. The incident raised questions about whether airbnb share some responsibility for crime committed on properties people rent through its site in less than a week after the shooting airbnb CEO. Brian Cherokee said publicly that the company had to quote take more responsibility for the stuff on our platform today on the show how Airbnb wrestles with crime and whether or not it's working Welcome to the Journal. Our show about money business and power. I'm Caitlyn bought and I'm Ryan Knutson. It's Wednesday January fifteenth When AIRBNB CEO Brian Chelsea's said after the shooting that AIRBNB would start taking more responsibility for the stuff on its platform? He listed a few different things that the company was going to do. One of them sort of the biggest I would say is that. They said they were going to make sure that all of their millions of listings were verified for quality and accuracy and they also said they would put up a hotline for neighbors to call. If there's an issue previously you know if you had an issue with Airbnb you would be like transacting on the platform like as a host or a guest so this would allow kind of like neighbors like those in Arinda get someone at the company. There is an issue. These new safety measures are a big deal for AIRBNB and come in an important time in the company's evolution AIRBNB is expected to go public this year. Meaning it's about to face a lot more scrutiny. From investors about everything from safety to its profit margins airbnb is at the moment one of our largest so called UNICORNS the UNICORNS out here. In the bay area. It's been privately funded its entire existence and it's valued at about thirty one billion dollars. It's expected in twenty twenty this year to go public and it's one of the most hotly anticipated. IPO's at least in the tech space this year. How big of a platform is it? It has about seven million listings every night. There's an average of about two million traps on AIRBNB. So it's the largest home sharing platform in the US and it's big also internationally way to put that in perspective Marriott which is the world's largest hotel operator has about one point three million guest rooms around the world according to one estimate that means AIRBNB has about five times as many places on a platform as big as AIRBNB. At least some crime is bound to happen and over the years. All kinds of incidents have been reported everything from minor crime like theft morning San Francisco police releasing this new video of an AIRBNB. Renter allegedly ripping off the owner total heist over thirty five thousand dollars mostly in jewelry. According to police there have also been reports. Parts of violent crimes like sexual assaults and shootings. But there's not much information out there about how big a problem crime is airbnb. Or what kinds of crimes are being reported. Most often AIRBNB doesn't release any kind of statistics broadly again. They're a private company so oh they've released a figure out. Basically said point zero five percent of all trips in the year ending July thirty first. I had some sort of safety related incident but without any kind of detail or without an aggregate figure zero point zero five percent might sound small. But it's a small percentage of a big number remember. There's an average of two million people booked into airbnb Abi listings per night. What do you make of those numbers? So the statistics might be small for the total number of stays that AIRBNB. She has around the world but for example Uber just came out with its first kind of transparency report on problems on its platform and sad at there were almost six thousand reports of sexual assault involving drivers and the US and twenty seventeen in two thousand eighteen and even even though those were statistically low. That's still a large number way larger than anyone would want right so the same for Airbnb like statistically even though that's a small amount I don't think anyone wants to see any amount crime obviously happens vins also in hotels. So is there something about airbnb though that makes it different absolutely like booking a hotel room at the Marriott you you expect this sort of certain level of protection I would say but with an AIRBNB. It's it's just kind of unclear. We're still what you're supposed to expect and even get from them. It's like basically questioning. What is the role of the middle man here right even as a middleman AIRBNB does get involved with safety? It has a dedicated team called the trust team which sets policy in handles any kind of issues that come up. Their job is to deal with problems once they happen but then also to predict where problems might take place and so this is a really important team at any company but especially at a company like airbnb over the years. This team has grown from just a few people bowl to three hundred employees but there can sometimes be friction between this team and other parts of the company including the parts most focused on growth. So one of these issues was in twenty seventeen some of these employees and the trust and safety team really felt that AIRBNB would do better on safety issues and help weed out bad actors on the platform if they required all users guests and hosts to produce a government. I D for example in the. US like a driver's license. It might help verify identities but it would also be he likes deterrent. Like if you're getting on AIRBNB for some kind of nefarious reason if Airbnb then ask for an ID that might just give you pause and this moment airbnb had really face some high profile incidents like prostitution on the platform there were some cases of hosts. You know watching guests using hidden video cameras. There were stories of death so while of course they didn't think this was is going to rule out all crime. They really thought that this would help. At least deter some bad actors so they brought it up with senior execs Atas but they were rejected in. We don't know exactly how but that. Brian Chest Ski airbnb see was aware of it. That's according to people familiar with the matter and one of the reasons was because there had been a study and the study had shown that some users stirs would stop signing up if they were asked for so it could hurt their growth prospects even users who may not have any criminal record occurred or any reason to hide. They just might not use the platform if they had to go through the additional step of showing their I d that's right like an additional hassle These were the sorts so debates. Where sometimes you know the trust and safety team lost out AIRBNB? Say about its decision decision not to use the ideas. Well AIRBNB has told us that. It's because they have a superior verification system they use according to them a bunch of other signals to make sure you are who you say you are like your social media profiles or your phone number or other factors like that so airbnb says that those signals are actually better confirming someone's identity than government issued shoe driver's license. Yes they also said to us that when they looked at this they told us that will some people in developing countries don't have an ID so that would be discriminatory towards them. AIRBNB may not require government issued photo I. D.'s from everyone but it does do background checks on all its users. Globally it checks all hosts and guests against terrorist and sanctions watch lists and in the US. It also checks sex sex offender registration and felony conviction lists but AIRBNB is back check is limited and sometimes even people with red flags slip through the cracks cracks.."