Jennifer O’Connell: Only privileged white men could have dreamed up Airbnb

No woman who walked home with keys in hand for protection would think of business model

Airbnb  pays $50 million annually cleaning up after people in their listed properties. Photograph:  Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

Airbnb pays $50 million annually cleaning up after people in their listed properties. Photograph: Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

A few years ago, when I was working in Silicon Valley, I attended a talk by someone from Airbnb about the company’s communications strategy. The strategy seemed to boil down to a phrase I heard again this week about Airbnb in an entirely different context: shooting the money cannon.

When Airbnb wanted a music track to accompany one of their promotional videos, it shot the money cannon and brought in a professional composer and an orchestra. When it wanted to make a video showing how “Airbnb makes the world smaller”, 30 model makers and designers were given five weeks to create an 85 sq m miniature set. (It’s always good to hear about lucrative opportunities for creatives. It’s even nicer when those opportunities don’t involve making expensive ad campaigns.)

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