Airbnb Apologizes for San Francisco Tax Ads

Airbnb Apologizes for San Francisco Tax Ads

Airbnb apologized Thursday for street ads here with sassy suggestions as to what San Francisco should do with hotel tax money collected from the home-sharing platform.

"We apologize for Wednesday's SF ads," the startup tweeted from an @Airbnb account at Twitter.

"They displayed poor judgment and do not live up to the values and humanity of our global community."

While some found the messages comic, others took offense.

Tongue-in-cheek ads signed "love Airbnb" included suggestions on ways to spend $12 million (roughly Rs. 77.8 crores) collected through a hotel tax the company had fought to dodge.

Playfully worded ads suggested the money should go to longer library hours, private shuttle service for residents, cleaning parks, or providing more bike lanes.

An ad displayed at one public bus stop recommended using the tax money to feed expired parking meters, while another ad suggested installing escalators on the city's trademark hills.

Airbnb reportedly pumped $8 million (roughly Rs. 52 crores) dollars into political groups fighting the city's successful campaign to extract hotel-type tax from residences rented out through the online service.

The San Francisco-based startup was pelted with tweets expressing offense at the ads.

One tweet, copying the ads' style, pointed to how much good Airbnb would have done if it had donated the money it spent fighting the local tax measure to libraries.

Airbnb's website allows property dwellers and owners to rent a room or entire home for short periods. Earlier this year the startup raised $1.5 billion (roughly Rs. 9,727 crores) in new capital, sending its value up to $25.5 billion (roughly Rs. 1,65,370 crores).

The company was launched in 2008 and now has some 40 million users worldwide.

Traditional hotel chains see Airbnb as a rival and accuse it of helping people avoid taxes and of hosting illegal accommodations on its website.


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