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Airbnb on regulated cities like New York: It doesn’t seem like the end is in sight

CEO Brian Chesky: “I thought it would take a few years.”

Shirin Ghaffary is a senior Vox correspondent covering the social media industry. Previously, Ghaffary worked at BuzzFeed News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and TechCrunch.

For years, Airbnb has faced major legislative problems in big cities like San Francisco and New York, and CEO Brian Chesky thought it would be over by now.

He realizes now he was mistaken.

“New York has been at a standstill since 2010,” Chesky said onstage at Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. “In 2010, I said this is gonna be a one-year challenge. In 2011, I said this is probably gonna take a few years. In 2018, I said this is gonna take more than a few more years. It doesn’t seem like the end is in sight with that challenge,” he said.

So why does the company continue to stay in business there when they’re focusing efforts in China and other regions where legislation isn’t as big a problem?

“If it was just a business decision it probably wouldn’t be worth it to stay there. But we’re not there just for business, there are 50,000 people that depend on it to make income,” Chesky explained.

Just because some city governments are cracking down on Airbnb doesn’t mean the company isn’t popular in those communities, the CEO argued.

“I want to say this: I don’t all think cities hate us,” said Chesky, “We’ve collected $500 million in hotel tax. We will soon be the largest collector of hotel tax of any company in the world.”

Chesky also talked about the company taking on greater social responsibility in a way he didn’t anticipate when he first started the company. After the Charlottesville white nationalist rally, for example, employees actively worked to shut down after-parties that people were planning in Airbnb rentals.

“We do have a responsibility in our neighborhoods. We do have to improve things,” said Chesky.

Watch his full interview below.

This article originally appeared on

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