The hotelier of the future is movin’ on up — but not without a fair share of controversy. This week, the company pumped out 2 big wins and one potentially big loss. Here’s the latest.
Win: They doubled their revenue
The cool-kid of home renting companies is continuing their profitability: at $1B, their Q3 revenue doubled last year’s ($500m).
Airbnb has managed to keep a steady profit going for the past 17 months, straight, which is incredibly important as the business moves closer and closer toward an IPO.
Win: They’re pushing toward accessibility for everyone
This week, Airbnb acquired the accessible accommodation company, Accomable — often dubbed “Airbnb for disabled people” — for an undisclosed amount.
According to the London-based startup’s website, Accomable will now “work with Airbnb hosts around the world to find properties that could have suitable accessibility features.” Their first order of business: to suss out homes on the Airbnb platform with the potential to accommodate those in wheelchairs.
Loss: Vancouver pumps the breaks
Vancouver moved to limit short-term rentals this week, due to the city’s severe housing shortage — a move that could directly affect Airbnb’s business interests there.
With high housing rates and an abnormally low vacancy rate for both apartments and housing, the city hopes these restrictions will free up more long-term rentals and help protect any further loss of rental units.
Long-live short-term livin’
The days of tax-free Amazon purchases are growing nigh
Earlier this year, Amazon started charging tax on goods from its own inventory in all 45 states that have sales tax.
Goods sold by third-party sellers, which make up half of Amazon’s platform, are still largely tax-free — but that could all change soon: under mounting pressure from legislators, many of these merchants are expected to start collecting tax.
A little backstory
For many years, Amazon sold goods tax-free. Under the 1992 Supreme Court Case, Quill Corporation v. North Dakota, they argued that “states cannot collect taxes from companies that did not have a physical presence there.”
But as the e-commerce giant established warehouses across the US, that argument lost clout — and states came knocking. Today, any item from Amazon’s own inventory is taxed.
Here’s the catch: third-party vendors are still tax-free
Until now, Amazon has allowed third-party sellers to choose whether or not to charge sales tax.
For vendors in most states, this is a gray legal area. But certain states, including CA, MA, SC, and WA, are coming down hard on sellers, threatening to charge millions in back taxes — and as a result, vendors are increasingly (and begrudgingly) implementing sales tax on their products.
Consumers are likely to bear the brunt of these new fees, to the tune of 5-10% the cost of an order. So, don’t be shocked if your tub of Uranium Ore costs $44 instead of $40 in the near future.
Volkswagen Group has announced that it intends to launch 15 “new energy vehicles” in China by 2020.
The decision, which will also include an $11.8B investment in EV technologies, comes as China edges toward a more environment-friendly future.
Get your diesel out of here
VW’s been on the wrong side of the news the past few years after they were caught fudging their emissions technology. The resulting scandal, “Deiselgate,” is set to cost them $30B in fines and repairs.
As a result, VW’s been repositioning themselves as a more eco-conscious company, stating they’ll be all-electric by 2030.
They’ve got a special eye on China
All of VW’s new electric vehicles will be built in China, where they hope efficient factories can meet their high output expectations. They’re aiming to sell 400k EVs per year in China by 2020 — and 1.5m by 2025.
With China recently suggesting it will ban petrol and diesel engines, it seems there will be significantly higher demand for electric cars.
VW, known for its diesel beasts, is an unlikely company to fill that void. But then again, China seems to have an unquenchable thirst for foreign brands — VW in particular — so maybe it’s a perfect match.
There’s big business in solving India’s toilet crisis
Sanitation facilities in India are super bad. And because of that, there’s a $62B market for global and local companies to help fix the problem.
According to the Toilet Board Coalition (a global consortium of companies, investors, and sanitation experts), the aim is to hire companies to help develop market-based fixes to help India end “open defecation” by 2019.
But it’s easier said than done
Three years after rolling out the Swachh Bharat (“Clean India”) campaign, the country is still facing major issues involving their sanitation facilities.
A whopping 732.2m people in India lack access to basic sanitation, and the restrooms they have access to are known to be unbearably filthy cesspools of fatal diseases.
One in 10 deaths in the country occur due to poor hygiene, and it is estimated that 23% of adolescent girls drop out of school due to sanitation issues.
The toilet economy
The TBC has helped India’s government — who is massively failing on producing the 2.5m+ toilets they promised by March of 2016 — realize the sanitation market isn’t pointed at some one-size-fits-all company.
Shaping a toilet is only one subset that makes the sanitation economy swirl ‘round: in order to meet their promised quota, they also need companies who specialize in maintenance, waste transport, data collection, even smell — a major reason existing toilets go unused.
I love the future. It’s friggin’ fantastic. Why? Because I love living in an age where my microwave tells my speaker to play “The Final Countdown” as I wait — a frozen burrito has never rocked so hard.
If it says “internet” and “things” in the description, I’m sold.
So, when I walked into Open House inside the Metreon here in San Francisco, the tech geek in me squealed with delight.
Experience the “smart life” for yourself
Target’s Open House is a gadget-lover’s childhood fantasy. It’s retail on ‘roids. Smart appliances from door locks to mood lights are on display, waiting for you to pick ‘em up and test ‘em out.
If you call SF home, or just happen to be in our pretty city, Open House is worth a visit. And, because Target loves The Hustle, they’re giving readers a FREE Flic button when they spend $100 or more this weekend in store at Open House (Nov. 17 – 19).
Get a loved one a gift, leave with a Flic for yourself — just mention this email at the register. Quantities limited, no rain checks.
— Kolby, The Hustle’s “IoT” Guy
(FYI, this deal is only valid in-store at the Open House in San Francisco — come check it out!)