Overnight Billionaires: Airbnb

Listen to this episode

S1: I don’t even like leaving my house those first two weeks of February because it’s crazy here, you can’t even go to a restaurant.

S2: Kelly Burdge, who lives in Tucson, Arizona. Tucson, is home to Saguaro National Park, the University of Arizona. And each February, the Tucson Gem and mineral show, it’s a big deal in the world of precious stones. And it’s a big deal in Tucson.

S3: Thanks for joining us. We’re taking you to the fabulous Tucson Gem and Mineral show this morning. It’s your Loog. It’s all over the city. But like the whole freeway, there’s tents all along it. Every gem, huge amethysts, huge crystals, just acres of ginormous gems and minerals and people from all over the world.

S4: The GM show is such a big deal, in fact, that there aren’t enough hotel rooms in Tucson to accommodate everyone who comes to town for it, which makes the gem show a yearly windfall for people like Bourgie who make money by renting out property on Airbnb.

S3: I mean, people can pay six months of their mortgage in two weeks. It’ll be like hosting the Super Bowl. That’s what the rates are.

S5: There has been an Airbnb host for a few years now. Before that, she was a traditional kind of landlord leasing the long term tenants. But she found that she can make more money from folks who are only in town for a few days or a week.

S3: I have some long term rentals and my father in law, he does the short term. Right. And he he’s just like, you have to do what? You have to do it. You’re going to make so much more money. And I thought, I don’t want to have all this extra work. Well, I did it to one house and I was like, well, jeez, this is a cash cow. So then I turned another one into another one.

S6: Another one into one at the beginning of twenty twenty. Birju have three Airbnb properties in Tucson, all of them single unit dwellings and business was good enough that she decided to add a fourth house.

S3: Birgitt closed at the beginning of February because we wanted to close and get it furnished right before the GEMCO.

S1: So February 1st is a huge house and we just put everything into that, you know.

S5: And then a month later, a month later, of course, America recorded what was then thought to be its first covid-19 death outside of Seattle, Washington. Then there was another death and another. And another and another. And all at once, it seemed like the virus was everywhere, including Tucson.

S3: This is Arizona’s 13th confirmed case of covid-19. The health department held a press conference this morning.

S7: I’m not going to stand up here and say, don’t worry, this isn’t going to be that bad. It it is going to be bad.

S4: As the outbreak became a pandemic, global travel ground to a halt, the prospect of traveling to stay in someone else’s home where you’d have to touch things with your hands all of a sudden became a clear and present health hazard. And by March 13th, when President Trump declared the covid-19 crisis a full fledged national emergency, Kelly Persia’s Airbnb business had completely collapsed.

S3: My phone just wouldn’t stop ringing, just cancellation, cancellation, cancellation, cancellation, cancellation, cancellation, cancellation, I mean, four houses fully booked for months. Every single one of them counseled. I mean, at one point, I just sat on the floor in my kitchen and just cried, I banked everything on this. I banked everything on this.

S5: Airbnb transformed the experience of travel by turning ordinary neighborhoods into tourist destinations in ordinary people into Back-Door innkeeper’s, these people, small businesses are the backbone of Airbnb, a big one. How does this relationship work? Who depends more on whom and when the worst case scenario hits? Who bears the brunt of the blow?

S8: This is thrilling tales of modern capitalism. I’m Justin Peters, in for Seth Stevenson. Today’s episode overnight, billionaires, Airbnb.

S2: Kelly, Birju wasn’t the only person who had gone all in on Airbnb over the past decade or so, millions of people all over the world signed up to become Airbnb hosts, welcoming strangers to stay with them for short stretches of time, turning their spare bedrooms and second homes into micro hotels. Many of these people rented and purchased houses, condos and apartments for the express purpose of renting them to travelers. They began to build their own small businesses on Airbnb platform. They leveraged their existing assets for new ones in order to keep growing. And when they did all this, they were following the trajectory of the platform itself in miniature.

S9: Airbnb got started in a San Francisco apartment just 13 years ago. Since then, it has become one of the biggest success stories of the so-called sharing economy.

S2: In 2019, there were more than six million listings on the platform, everything from couches to mansions, according to Airbnb. That’s more listings than there are rooms.

S9: The sixth biggest hotel chains combined, the Airbnb creation myth goes something like this. In 2007, two buddies who had met at the Rhode Island School of Design, Brian Chesky and Joseph Gibeah, were living together in San Francisco when they found themselves short on cash. They figured they could make some money by running out some of the vacant space in the three bedroom apartment that they shared together. But instead of doing the expected thing and subletting that third bedroom to a long term roommate, they decided to briefly turn their house into a hotel. A big design conference was coming to town and hotel rooms were in short supply. Chesky and Gibeah hatched a plan that inflate some air mattresses, scatter them around their apartment and rent them out by the night. The price conscious conference goers who had nowhere else to crash. So they created a website, promoted it on some design blogs and found three people who are willing to rent those air mattresses for 80 bucks a night. Chesky and Gibeah treated their guests like long lost friends. They made him breakfast. They showed him around San Francisco. They hung out with them for the duration of the conference. By the end of the week, they’d made about a thousand bucks and they were starting to think that their wacky scheme to make the rent might be the basis for an actual business.

S10: We always thought, you know, design isn’t how something looks, designs how something works, and we had this really simple idea, what if you could go somewhere and feel like you live there?

S11: That was Brian Chesky in a 2017 interview with Sun today. And while the idea may have been a simple one, it wasn’t immediately obvious how to monetize it. It took Chesky and Jabe about a year to hone their pitch for a platform that allowed people around the world to share their physical spaces with travelers for a few nights at a time. These people could use the platform to make a little extra cash by renting out air mattresses in their homes and apartments. Travelers could save money by avoiding expensive hotels and by staying with locals in actual residential neighborhoods, not downtown tourist districts. They could really get to know the places they were visiting. They’d have a more authentic and personalized travel experience. They formally launched their company in 2008. They called an air bed and breakfast for short Airbnb. And that’s the story, but it’s not the whole story, if it were, this would be a very short podcast episode.

S10: As it turns out, there wasn’t really that much worldwide demand to sleep on an air mattress in the apartment of someone you’d never met.

S12: You know, it used to be just crash on the couch. And then I had a spare bedroom, but it quickly evolved to be entire homes. Right. And that was really the transition that made Airbnb explode. WASM as soon as you have a one bedroom apartment with triple the space and a kitchen and a balcony and it’s 30 percent less than the hotel next door, it becomes a pretty attractive alternative to hotels.

S10: Scott Shefford is a CEO of Air DNA, a website that analyzes trends and data in short term rentals. He’s watched Airbnb surge in popularity over the past decade.

S12: Every property, every host, you know, everything’s different on Airbnb. And that’s the beauty of it, right? You want to stay with somebody, you meet somebody cool. You can if you want to stay in a really exotic place, you can you want to stay in a really interesting sort of, you know, place. You can do that. Advisees, there’s so much choice out there. That’s what people like about this system, right?

S11: Since the dawn of tourism, leisure travelers have craved authentic experiences from the places they visit to get a slice of what real life is like in the great big elsewhere.

S6: They haven’t always found it. The vacation industrial complex is built to steer sightseers into uniformally inauthentic experiences, you know, sterile chain hotels clustered in commercial downtowns or out near the highway, air conditioned bus tours that cruise by sites at 15 miles an hour, neighborhoods that exist exclusively to separate sightseers from the cash in their money belts. And then Airbnb came along and made it easy for travelers to find quirky lodgings in authentic residential neighborhoods, the parts of town that hadn’t been purpose built for tourists. As you hear in this 2017 ad for Airbnb set in New York City, Brooklyn’s Magic, Brooklyn, Qosi Magic.

S13: We want our guests to take back a piece of Brooklyn with them, something that they can look at and remember this experience by creating a piece of jewelry. That’s a beautiful testimony that you can bring something out of nothing.

S12: You know, everybody’s tired of stale hotel stay, at least most people are our DNA, Scott shattered. The mantra of Mariotte used to be that, you know, you’re staying in a Marriott, whether you’re staying and thali or staying in Brazil. You’re staying in Boston. Right. And that’s not how people want to travel. They want to feel like they’re in Bali, Brazil or Boston when they’re in those cities. And that’s what Airbnb really capitalized on it.

S2: Airbnb founders had built an exciting, less expensive alternative to the typical travel experience. They’d also designed a product ready made for a specific historical moment, the direct aftermath of the Great Recession.

S14: Airbnb was founded when the world was reeling from the effects of the subprime mortgage crisis and many people who had once had jobs, investments and retirement income. We’re now looking to offset their losses in those areas through a series of gigs they found through online platforms. These platforms made it easier than ever for people to monetize their own dormant assets, their car, for instance, or their spare bedroom by sharing them with people who are willing to pay to use them. Some people called it the sharing economy. Sarah Kessler is a journalist and the author of Gigged.

S15: She’s been writing about the gig and sharing economies for a decade or so around the time when these companies were cropping up like two thousand nine, twenty ten, I was like a true tech blogger and I was just profiling startup after startup. And all of them had this pitch about changing the world. You know, there was this idea that technology was invariably like pushing us forward and to progress and a good force in the world and kind of a lot of the skepticism, the like appropriate skepticism that we have today about all these platforms hadn’t yet arrived at the time.

S2: What really was there to be skeptical of? Platforms such as Airbnb offered people new opportunities to bring in a little cash at a time when many of them desperately needed it. And imagine trying to rent out your apartment to a sequence of short term vacation tenants without Airbnb. You’d have to figure out how to get customers and how to accept credit cards and deal with cancellations and insurance for a small fee.

S9: Airbnb took care of all of this for you. It made the transaction frictionless. And pretty soon people started to realize that renting on Airbnb could be good for more than just some side cash.

S16: When this group of companies first became noticed as a thing or a trend, people didn’t differentiate between Airbnb and platforms that were actually hiring people to do work. It was all kind of part of the same idea that Silicon Valley was going to free you from your desk job.

S2: Why punch a clock when you can instead share things on the Internet for money? But of course, renting out a room or an apartment exchange for money isn’t really sharing. And Airbnb doesn’t technically provide the services that are being exchanged on a platform. It just invented the platform.

S15: Airbnb fits into this group of companies that’s a middleman or a marketplace which the gig economy companies also fit into that. And some of these are more predatory than others. But they you know, they build the app, but they don’t provide the service or own the things. And if something goes wrong, it’s not them that take the hit.

S4: The idea of people helping people was nevertheless central to the story that Airbnb told about itself. In this account, an Airbnb stay wasn’t primarily transactional. It was an experience. Airbnb wasn’t just a company, it was a community. Speaking to Inc magazine in 2014, Chesky said that, quote, At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is bring the world together. You’re not getting a room. You’re getting a sense of belonging. Now, tech CEOs often wax messianic. It sort of comes with the territory. But there’s always a strategic motive when a for profit company with world conquering ambitions tries to frame a transaction as some sort of voluntary vision quest by redefining jobs as gigs and renting is sharing, these companies can minimize their obligations to the people who provide the services for which the platform is best known. As such, they can achieve rapid growth while remaining asset light. And that’s a formula that can be very attractive to venture capitalists.

S15: So most of the systems that companies have to fund themselves, they’re not interested in slow, sustainable growth. They want things that can be scaled instantly and cheaply and don’t require investment in humans.

S4: Airbnb fit the bill in July 2011, roughly three years after it launched Airbnb, close to 115 million dollar funding round, with its valuation at the time estimated at one point three billion dollars. Investors were banking on Airbnb, essentially becoming the world’s fastest growing hotel company without having to own a single hotel.

S17: And as the company grew more ambitious, so did many of its hosts from.

S10: Earlier in the episode, we heard from air DNA, Scott Shefford, well, Scott’s not just an urban bee analyst. Once upon a time, he was one of the platform’s most successful and notorious hosts.

S4: In 2012, after being laid off from his job, Shaffir decided to put his stuff into storage and go travel the world, his neighbor proposed another option instead of giving up the lease on his apartment while he was away. Why not just rent that apartment out on Airbnb?

S12: And I said, what the hell is Airbnb? And he said, Well, you know why you’re traveling the world for three or six months. You can rent out your place to strangers and cover your rent and utilities. And I said, that sounds way too easy.

S6: In the end, Shefford didn’t just cover his rent. He also cleared three or four thousand dollars a month in profit.

S12: When he got home, he decided to become an Airbnb host full time, and I ended up renting about eight other one bedroom apartments in Santa Monica, putting on Airbnb, furnishing him on the cheap and had a nice little passive cash flow.

S6: At a certain point, he says, his Airbnb listings were the highest performing one bedrooms in all of the Los Angeles area. How did he do it?

S18: Like if you have something that most people don’t make sure you’re advertising. What are people going to do? Talk about the experience? Because that’s what people are choosing Airbnb and not choosing you for how many beds and baths you have and what your location is you’re trying to figure out. Like, why are you unique when amenities you have, you know, go by to beach cruises if you buy the bike that cost you two hundred and fifty bucks, but it’s going to get you 20 more bookings that year. So just like trying to figure out like what were the easy ways to market properties to get bookings. And so that was that was sort of my secret sauce.

S5: Shefford wasn’t the only person who had figured out that Airbnb could be a way to earn more than just a little spare cash. Lots of entrepreneurs were snapping up leases in desirable residential areas, listing them on Airbnb for quick gains.

S18: I mean, I talked to guys that had bought 180 homes and are doing things way smarter than they were and had access to 50 million dollars in capital. And so are eye opening moments when you realize, hey, this isn’t just, you know, random guys like me trying to scale a business, but there is institutional money.

S5: It’s airborne beat grew into a multibillion dollar company, its revenue growth, according to at least two academic studies funded by the American Hotel and Lodging Association, was fueled not by homeowners with spare rooms, but by hosts listing multiple units at once. Commercial operators who, like Shefford, were willing to invest in standardizing and professionalizing their rental units.

S12: It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how you can rent an apartment for three thousand dollars long term and then rent it for seven thousand dollars a month short term and do that consistently. But, you know, obviously that the narrative from Airbnb was this was just host, you know, sharing a room or renting out a second home. But, you know, quickly, people are going to find the opportunity and figure out how to scale that business. And I don’t you know, I don’t see what’s wrong with that. Right. Like, you know, escaping the nine to five Dryden’s by figuring out passive income streams is sort of the American way.

S17: But it turns out government regulators did start to see something wrong with that. And they started taking action.

S19: The short term home rental industry is booming, according to a report by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman last year. Nearly three quarters of Airbnb listings were essentially illegal hotels.

S17: That was a PBS NewsHour report from 2015, as much as travelers and entrepreneurs loved Airbnb, by that point, the service had also generated a lot of ill will.

S20: Scare stories proliferated about Airbnb renters trashing apartments or using them for orgies. Lawmakers worry that Airbnb landlords were skirting rules prohibiting these sorts of short term vacation rentals. Hotel owners complained that these new competitors weren’t paying their fair share of taxes. And everyone worry that tourists who are slowly changing the character of the neighborhoods they had come to visit urged on by tenant advocates and hotel industry lobbyists, cities around the country started to fight back.

S21: Trendy new way to stay the night. When you visit a town, Airbnb, people literally open their homes to strangers for money. But the city of Chicago wants to crack down for the first time. Owners of Airbnb bees right here in Kansas City could have to pay hundreds of dollars if some new regulations go. Well, that’s right, Shannon. You know, a new study shows that Nashville is the fastest growing city for bookings with Airbnb, and that’s got Nashville lawmakers attention.

S4: Airbnb found that its best defense against bad press and crusading politicians was not to focus on professional hosts like Scott Shefford, but rather to spotlight the hosts on the platform. Who were the little guys? Individuals who actually were renting out their spare rooms just to make a few bucks to help with the rent?

S2: When, for example, New York’s attorney general began looking into Airbnb around 2014, the company responded with a massive advertising and publicity campaign spotlighting sympathetic locals who were using the platform the way it had been originally intended, people helping people and making a few extra dollars in the process.

S22: When I start feeling homesick, I was going to Greek restaurants and some of the best Greek restaurants here in Astoria. Today, we are going to eat like Greeks. We are going to have fun like Greeks want, going to feel like we are travelling back to Greece, only taking these short subway ride.

S2: Nevertheless, the new regulations kept coming. Back in Santa Monica, California, Scott Shefford found himself facing a city wide crackdown on short term vacation rentals meant to restrict Airbnb when he continued to rent his Santa Monica apartments on Airbnb. Anyway, the city hall them into court and shut down his burgeoning empire.

S12: They did a criminal conviction of me. I’ve got a misdemeanor on my record for operating a legal vacation rentals in Santa Monica. It was it was quite the experience, you know, definitely the the guys in the orange jumpsuits at my court date were definitely laughing and snickering at my at my charge.

S2: I asked Shefford if Airbnb had come to his aid any point during his case. The company hadn’t.

S5: Today, shattered estimates that there are roughly a million people worldwide for whom their urban businesses are their primary source of income. These are the super hosts.

S3: I guess it’s like customer service. I mean, that’s the biggest thing. I mean, it’s like constantly kissing ass.

S6: The term super horse is both what you’d use to describe Tewson airborne beer calibration and an official Airbnb designation. Super hosts are basically professional or semi-professional Airbnb peers who go out of their way to meet or exceed the level of service and hospitality that their guests would find in a hotel. They have to host at least 10 states per year, answer inquiries quickly, get lots of five star reviews and so on. Burgess says that to maintain that five star rating, a super host has to fulfill a lot of unexpected and sometimes outlandish requests like we need of item X blender every time something like this happens.

S3: And like I’ve seen it all.

S5: It’s Airbnb has grown to dominate the world of short term vacation rentals, people have become more familiar with the platform and thus more demanding about what they expect from their rentals. For many travelers, it’s no longer enough to stay for cheap in someone’s actual apartment. They want a house. It’s a blank slate with hotel amenities and no trace that anyone has ever actually lived there. That’s not something a person with a spare room can offer these days. If you stick around, it’s an Airbnb host. Chances are you do so because you’ve chosen to make it your business. And if you’ve chosen to make short term vacation rentals your business, you can’t not be on Airbnb. It isn’t that there aren’t other platforms that do the same thing.

S2: Other apps and companies like Vigário have tried to contend with Airbnb over the years, and Vario is actually more than a decade older than Airbnb. But Airbnb remains the most popular platform for both hosts and guests. So would you say that Airbnb is a bigger portion of your business than HomeAway or Vario?

S1: Yeah, probably. Seventy five percent is Airbnb. Twenty five percent Vario.

S10: The promise of Airbnb for travelers was that it would give them unique lodging experiences for less than they might pay at a hotel. The promise for hosts was that they could be their own boss by renting out their existing assets on this platform whenever they felt like it. But if you rely on one platform for the vast majority of opportunities you get, then you’re not actually your own boss at all. In every meaningful respect, you’re tied to that platform. Here’s Scott Shefford.

S18: When they think about the future of their company, if they control the guests, they can control the host because the host doesn’t have an option. They can’t create their own website. They’re not going to get enough demand from other platforms to pay their bills and be a profitable business. And so, you know, yes, in their in their minds that when there’s a toss up and they got to think about their guests and their host, that guest is going to come back for 20 years. But that hosts a we can replace that one house with a different host. Right.

S5: And in times of crisis, in worst case scenarios, it can be tough to rely on a platform that does not rely on you.

S23: Coronaviruses continuing to spread fast around the world. And some governments have placed travel bans on passengers coming from certain areas. So for some process, that dream vacation may have to be put on hold.

S20: But for others, this delay at the beginning of twenty twenty, Airbnb was valued at roughly 31 billion dollars and was readying itself for an IPO. But unlike some tech startups whose businesses exist almost exclusively in the cloud, Airbnb is tethered to the real world. And this spring, when the real world collapsed in a fit of coughing, Airbnb found itself in serious trouble.

S24: It was kind of like, you know, I was a captain of a ship and it was like a nice ship and it was really sunny and all of a sudden, like a torpedo hit the side of the ship and we lost the vast majority of our business. I mean, global travel came to a standstill. People stopped getting on planes, borders closed. You had two and a half billion people shelter in place. And all of a sudden it felt like it took me 12 years for for my partners and I to build this business. And we lost most of it in four or five weeks.

S5: There was Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky back in June. He’d just seen his company’s valuation dropped by 13 billion dollars.

S2: But in that same interview, Chesky said that the company was already starting to see signs of recovery in the IPO, might still be on track. Airbnb hosts, though, dealing with lost income, unpaid bills and mounting debt, were finding it a little bit harder to see the silver lining.

S7: This message is for Brian Chesky of Airbnb. We are your loyal house and most devoted supporters. Well, that is we used to be now with fire boiling through our veins, we are collectively outraged. We thought you cared until you stabbed this in the back and left us to die.

S2: As the effects of the pandemic set in, this video of an outraged Airbnb host went viral. The reason why he and many other Airbnb hosts felt betrayed had to do with a critical decision the platform made about its long standing cancellation policy. Millions of travelers were canceling their trips. The ones who are staying in hotels, for the most part, could get their bookings refunded. The ones who booked on Airbnb found themselves subject to their hosts individual policies. Now, with certain exceptions for extenuating circumstances, Airbnb, it always let its hosts set their own terms of cancellation. Some hosts allowed travelers to cancel with a full refund up until 24 hours before checking. Others were more strict. But now Airbnb found itself in a real predicament. If travelers couldn’t get their money back, they’d be furious with the platform, and they also might feel compelled to travel when it was unsafe to do so. So more than ever before, Airbnb had to choose between the hosts who list on its platform and the guests who booked there, it shows its guests rolling the pandemic into its extenuating circumstances policy and allowing them to cancel for full refunds.

S25: It wasn’t just the host in the viral video who felt betrayed by this caliber. She felt it, too.

S3: I mean, I was mad at this decision. I was furious. The decision. I felt just like I was worthless.

S25: And, you know, by making it easier for people to change or cancel their travel plans, it’s a deadly virus began to spread all over the globe. Needless deaths may well have been avoided. The decision prevented a PR disaster for the company, and it cost Airbnb a lot of money, but it may have cost the hosts more than I thought.

S3: What a role of rules are nothing. You know, why even have a cancellation policy there?

S25: She went online to commiserate with other Airbnb hosts. The hosts were talking about filing a lawsuit. They considered starting their own platform. They complained about feeling so disposable, but, well, they were disposable. See, when a platform gets big enough, no single user is essential. Airbnb chose to look out for its guests rather than its hosts because the hosts have nowhere else to go.

S3: This is a corporation. You guys know how corporations work. Yeah, you’re not on top like that. At the end of the day, you’re a minion to Airbnb.

S5: That said, you got to remember, many of these same hosts are the ones who leased and bought up properties in residential neighborhoods, the ones who made it harder for actual residents of those neighborhoods to find affordable leases. They helped change the character of those neighborhoods by bringing in an endless stream of tourists.

S25: I’ve seen the whole thing happen in my own neighborhood, but who’s really to blame for that?

S2: Very early in Airbnb is lifespan. Brian Chesky wanted his website to maybe take after the nonprofit website Couch Surfing and freely connect travelers with lodging just out of a sense of community. But sharing became the sharing economy, Chesky and Gibeah became billionaires and the notion of community became a valuable branding tool. Airbnb is a business that facilitates a million smaller businesses that the company is loath to admit or businesses to do so would not just acknowledge some responsibility to the hosts who make the platform run and the cities and towns in which these hosts operate. It would damage its reputation as a provider of cool experiences offered by individuals who are just making some spare cash here and there. It would be to admit that Airbnb is in many ways a hotel chain comprised of millions of individual operators working under the umbrella of a trusted brand name like Best Western, but in cooler neighborhoods.

S4: At the end of March, Brian Chesky wrote a letter to his furious hosts in which he apologized for overriding their cancellation policies, for communicating the decision poorly and for not consulting them, quote, like partners. Should we know we could have been better partners, Chesky wrote.

S5: And among other things, he pledged that Airbnb would put two hundred and fifty million dollars toward paying host back a percentage of their losses after suffering big losses in March, Airbnb closed and a billion dollar round of funding in April. And sure enough to, the company’s valuation is down 40 percent from where it was earlier this year. In August, the company filed to go public. In a recent interview with NPR, Chesky reflected on what he learned from this whole experience. I think that the key is you have to be optimistic.

S26: You know, when I was a kid, my dad used to say to me, things are never as good as they seem and as bad as they seem. Well, if that’s true, if things weren’t maybe as good as they seemed in January, but that also probably means things aren’t as bad as they seem. In July, you start only now in a crisis. We’re reminded of some of the things that are most essential. And those things that are most essential are not the things that come in cardboard boxes to our front door. Yeah, that that is essential is the relationships that we have with people. That’s what we have in the day.

S5: When I check back in with Kelly recently, she told me that she’s managed to fill all of her houses with longer term rentals, albeit at lower rates that she’s been accustomed to getting. She says she’s just squeaking by on that big new house she bought in February. She took it off the Airbnb market entirely and leased it for a year. And she says that Airbnb customer service has gone totally silent for her and for fellow hosts and guests she’s heard from. But as she told me back in June when we first spoke, she’s not mad at Brian Chesky. How can I be mad at someone you never had a relationship with to begin with?

S3: It’s a corporation. And I don’t think we’re like partners or, you know what I mean? Which is probably I think it’s a probably a good thing that I have that instead of just having outreach for him and thinking, what, you screwed us like it’s a corporation.

S1: Like, did you actually think at the end of the day that he really cared about you?

S11: That’s our show for today. This episode was produced by Hipple Urbani and Jess Miller with help for Madeline Ducharme and Asha Solutia, technical direction from Merritt, Jacob and Kevin Bendis. Gabriel Roth is Slate’s editorial director for audio. Alicia Montgomery is the executive producer of podcasts Slate. June Thomas is senior managing producer of the Slate podcast network. Next week on the show, an iconic workwear brand grasp for life and the era of the Zoome meeting.

S22: It’s sad to see, I think, the most important American clothier file for Chapter 11.

S11: That’s next week on Thrilling Tales of Modern Capitalism. Seth Stevenson would back down. For now, I’m Justin Peters. Thanks for listening.

S27: This is Slate’s editor in chief, Jarrett Holt. I’m here because I want to thank you for everything you’ve done as a Slate plus member. Like many media organizations, we’ve had to traverse some rough patches these past few months. But unlike everyone else, we have you. It’s your membership that has made our journalism possible, and it’s your curiosity and passions that continue to guide our work. Every day, Slate sets out to bring you news analysis that is smart, illuminating and trustworthy. And that’s as true in our audio coverage as it is on our website. Whether it’s what next? Mary Harris sitting down with Dr. Anthony Fauci to discuss the nation’s coronavirus response or Virginia Heffernan hosting Mary Trump for a tell all on Trump cast or Jamelle Bouie joining the political gabfest to talk about this year’s protests against police violence. Our podcasters want to help you make sense of the biggest news in real time.

S28: We also aim to bring you important investigative features that you’re not going to read or hear anywhere else, like Season four, a slow burn, which looked at David Duke’s rise to power and what it took to stop him and which Vulture called a scorching listen for the class of IBG, an audio print production held by America’s host Dahlia Lithwick, who was staff writer Molly Olmstead, tracked down the nine other women in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg law school class and told the story of their lives and of an entire generation of American women. As we continue to cover the pandemic, the presidential election and the most consequential movement for justice and equality in this country since the 1960s.

S29: We could not be more grateful to have you on our side. Thanks again for your support.