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It Looks as Though Airbnb's 2015 Momentum Is Carrying Into 2016

New tax agreements in cities from Sacramento to Florence.


At the end of last year, we wrote that this year was going to probably be another good one for Airbnb, but that it likely wouldn’t come so easily.

So far, it appears to be gain without much pain.

To recap the home rental service’s January:

  • Airbnb inked its first tax agreement in Italy, signing a deal in Florence that is expected to bring in around $11 million in tax revenue for the city.
  • Sacramento’s City Council unanimously passed two ordinances that effectively legalized Airbnb in the city, and created a permit system (kind of like San Francisco’s model) for people who rent out their homes in the California state capital.
  • The government of New South Wales, the Australian state in which Sydney is located, is developing a framework to regulate sharing economy services like Airbnb (a month after NSW officials legalized UberX).
  • In Denmark, where Airbnb is said to be growing rapidly, the country’s tax minister said the government was exploring a model for so-called sharing economy legalization and tax collection.
  • Bay Area cities are lining up to let in tourists for the Super Bowl at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, and Airbnb said prices are 2.5 times above their normal rate.

Individually, all these are relatively incremental developments for a company valued at more than twice the market capitalization of Twitter. But put together, they tell the story of how Airbnb is expanding around the world, laying down roots and making nice with regulators.

Though, of course, it’s not all sunny for Airbnb. One trouble spot for the company is still New York City, where members of the City Council and attorney general Eric Schneiderman have locked horns with Airbnb over its reluctance to go after users who rent out illegal listings on the platform. Additionally, Airbnb has taken flack from human rights activists over listings in Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, communities that were illegally built under international law.

That said, it seems clear that regulatory battles in New York aren’t taking the wind out of Airbnb’s sails. If anything, as we’ve written, expect Airbnb to build on last year’s significant growth.

In 2015, Airbnb raised $1.5 billion at a valuation north of $25 billion, and it won a decisive political battle in San Francisco that set in motion the tech industry’s most audacious political organizing operation yet.

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