Airbnb Is A Fad

airbnbAirbnb is an easily reproducible marketplace that would have competition by now if its business were completely legal.  Competition means hosts would list on multiple services, driving down listing costs and Airbnb’s profitability.  The share economy company recently announced its new brand image.  The company has also launched a new Airbnb NYC website to argue after-the-fact that its service should be legal.  Here is a company that’s raised so much money at such high valuations that its only option for investors is an increasingly unlikely public offering.  I have my own opinion about a failed plan to take Airbnb public.  Airbnb may end up being just a fad. Continue reading

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

falling_icarusThe Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz is a recently-released documentary about the now-deceased hacktivist.  Aaron’s story is told through interviews with many people that knew him personally.  We hear from Aaron’s family, friends, and business associates.  There’s also footage of Aaron Swartz throughout his life.  The audience gets the same story we’ve read since Aaron’s death, a tragedy not unlike the mythical Icarus.  This 105 minute video suggests the federal government pressured Aaron Swartz into killing himself.  My own conclusion is Aaron took his life for more personal reasons. Continue reading

Prizeo Brings Together Celebrities And Charities To Increase Awareness And Raise Money

prizeoPrizeo enables celebrities to raise money for their favorite charities through fundraising contests.  Charities benefit when celebrities use their fame to promote causes and help raise money.  Prizeo works with celebrities to organize fundraising contests that have fun once-in-a-lifetime prize experiences.  A complete technical platform managed by Prizeo handles things like website hosting and donation payment processing.  Many celebrities have already hosted fundraisers on Prizeo.  Current fundraisers include a chance to meet Paul McCartney, attend a photo shoot with Paris Hilton, and tour a wolf sanctuary with ‘Game of Thrones’ author George R. R. Martin. Continue reading

Airbnb To Provide Host Data To New York Attorney General, Hosts To Get Legal Disclosures

airbnbAirbnb has reached an agreement to provide “anonymized” data to the New York Attorney General.  Per the agreement (embedded below), details to be provided by Airbnb include the property addresses of New York listings, with specific apartment numbers omitted, along with details of income generated from those listings.  Upon request, Airbnb must also provide the New York Attorney General with the name, contact information, and taxpayer identification associated with individual listings.  The agreement also requires Airbnb to provide certain legal disclosures to new host listings located in New York.  Airbnb’s troubles in New York continue, as its own hosts could eventually pursue litigation against the share economy company. Continue reading

Airbnb vs. New York: Share Economy Company Not Sharing With State Attorney General

airbnbAirbnb has won a legal battle against the State of New York.  The Supreme Court for New York cancelled the original subpoena by the State Attorney General demanding Airbnb provide information about its New York hosts.  In its decision and order (embedded below), the court disagreed with all of Airbnb’s arguments except the overly broad amount of requested information.  The Attorney General’s office has already announced plans to issue a revised subpoena.  I’ve written three previous posts in the saga of Airbnb vs. New York (post 1, post 2, post 3).  This controversy is just getting started. Continue reading

Firebase Enables App Developers To Store And Synchronize Data In Realtime

firebaseFirebase is a platform for realtime data storage and synchronization across multiple devices.  Apps built with the Firebase API also work offline, with automatic data sync when connectivity is restored.  Firebase is easy to setup and use.  Realtime infrastructure like Firebase is important for building innovative solutions on devices like smartphones and virtual reality.  One example of a Firebase-powered app is Vrban, used for exploring three-dimensional urban environments with Oculus Rift.  Vrban recently won TechCrunch Disrupt (TCD) New York 2014 Hackathon using Firebase, Esri CityEngine, and three.js browser-based 3D graphics. Continue reading

Y Combinator Now Invests $120k Per Startup, Ends YCVC Program

Rich Uncle PennybagsNew investments by Y Combinator will now each receive $120k directly from Y Combinator.  Y Combinator has also ended the YCVC Program.  YCVC was an $80k convertible note investment available to every YC startup beginning with YC W13.  YCVC replaced the Start Fund, which was a $150k convertible note available since YC W11.  The rumor that YCVC would end was initially reported a month ago by Dan Primack on Fortune.com.  I also have written several posts explaining that Y Combinator’s previous investment terms were increasingly irrational. Continue reading