Why Airbnb embraces failure

Airbnb will go down in history as the weak company that gave into political pressure from extremists. And that is the best-case scenario.

November 24, 2018 20:37
3 minute read.
The logo of Airbnb is displayed at an Airbnb event in Tokyo, Japan, June 14, 2018.

The logo of Airbnb is displayed at an Airbnb event in Tokyo, Japan, June 14, 2018.. (photo credit: REUTERS/ISSEI KATO)


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Airbnb... Oy Vey, Airbnb.

I’ve tweeted about this unfortunate, no, tragic decision by Airbnb a few times.

But apparently, many of my Facebook friends don’t do Twitter, and too many people have asked me to share my thoughts about this.

If you haven’t heard, Airbnb made a corporate decision to single out Jews in Judea and Samaria, AKA “the West Bank” and remove those listings from the platform.

So what do I think? I think I love Airbnb. I use it often. I am friends with part of the executive team and I use Airbnb in literally every single talk of mine to illustrate the concept of disruption vs. innovation/“inventing the wheel.”

I say, “If you look at the all winners, they invented and own nothing. Uber, Facebook, WeWork, and Airbnb, among others. They all took a concept, flipped it on its head and created a unicorn. They took an existing trillion-dollar industry and disrupted it.” Airbnb was a case study for me on how to build amazing companies.

As long as this decision is not reversed, which I want to believe it will be although I have no indication that is the case, Airbnb is now a symbol of corruption, no longer of disruption.

Airbnb will go down in history as the weak company that gave into political pressure from extremists. And that is the best-case scenario.

The reality is that this is a downright antisemitic decision. I can literally go into an Airbnb in Hebron if it is Arab owned. But if it’s Jewish owned, it will be removed from the platform. I can find Airbnb properties in literally all disputed areas in the world except in Israel’s Judea and Samaria if the property is owned by a Jew.

The optics of it, if nothing else, just make your skin crawl.

This decision is as absurd as the UN’s condemnations of Israel. Clear and obvious discrimination if I ever saw it.

Who knows if the fact that my entire feed is deactivating their Airbnb accounts will make a dent in this multi-billion dollar business? I don’t. But one thing is for sure: using this business, as far as I’m concerned, is now the equivalent of supporting blatant Jew hatred. Nothing less.

Some of Airbnb’s backers must be protesting this. I know Ashton Kutcher is a huge supporter of Israel, both from his activity and from meeting him and discussing this. He loves Israel. He cannot be OK with this decision.

On the other hand, Chris Sacca and Paul Graham are most likely the investors of Airbnb who orchestrated this circus. They are among the top investors in Silicon Valley and they are among the biggest Jew haters I know.

Bottom line, I’m done with Airbnb. They should reverse this corrupt decision. They should apologize for this offensive move. And they should keep disrupting and stop getting involved in things they clearly know very little about.

For now, I loved you, Airbnb. I loved you a lot. But you f***ed up big time here and you’ll pay the price, maybe now, maybe later but you are now officially changing lists from the list of incredible disrupters to the list of companies who misplaced their moral compass and went morally bankrupt.

Moral bankruptcy, if the universe has its way, eventually leads to financial bankruptcy. It’s happened to literal empires, it can happen to a technology company. See the Roman empire, the ancient Egyptian empire, the Greek empire. All gone. Moral bankruptcy didn’t go too well for those folks.

Dear Airbnb, reverse this outrageous and deeply offensive decision and we can kiss and make up.
Until then, buh bye.

The author is a tech journalist and leading start-up advisor.

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