The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
America embraces movements that empower individuals. This is at our core, from the Constitution to the start-up craze in Silicon Valley. Airbnb exemplifies America. Airbnb empowers micro-entrepreneurs to tap into unused assets and make extra money. This is exactly what my wife and I did. We had an in-law apartment that was used two weeks per year. We posted it on Airbnb and now we are generating enough income to pay down student loans. It doesn't sound like a lot but when those monthly bills are covered it makes all the difference in our world. There are additional benefits, too. First, we meet amazing people. For instance, we hosted two entrepreneurs working on 3D bio-printing; I'm now helping them grow their business. Airbnb is good for the environment; tap into enough unused in-law apartments and you don't need to ruin the landscape with a hunking concrete and steel hotel. Lastly, Airbnb saves money for travelers, which they put back into local restaurants and tourist attractions. Is Airbnb perfect? Of course not. No industry is perfect. In my community, Airbnb guests and hosts don't pay hotel tax. Theoretically, this may be negatively impacting the municipal budgets for police, fire, EMT. If after analysis this holds true, I would be in favor of taxation. Who is really getting hurt? Hotels. Airbnb is the greatest disruption that the hotel industry has ever seen. Marriott and Starwood have invested billions into long-term assets. Airbnb is competing with them - dare I say, outcompeting them - without laying a single brick or delivering a single room service meal. This is a good thing. We welcome disruption. It's why we have the greatest economy in the world. In closing, Airbnb is an invaluable service for guests, hosts and neighborhoods. As lawmakers, it's in your interest to support Airbnb and the millions of individuals that Airbnb positively impacts.