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Airbnb and Uber Mobilize Vast User Base to Sway Policy

Posted by New Leaders Council 4 Admin on November 05, 2015 at 1:41 PM

Originally published on November 4 in the New York Times by Conor Dougherty.

SAN FRANCISCO — Over the last few years, so-called sharing companies like Airbnb and Uber — online platforms that allow strangers to pay one another for a room or a ride — have established footholds in thousands of communities well before local regulators have figured out how to deal with them.

Now, as cities grapple with the growth of these services and try to pass rules for how they should operate, the companies are fighting back by turning their users into a vast political operation that can be mobilized at any sign of a threat.

Airbnb offered the latest and most vociferous example of this on Wednesday. Fresh off defeating a San Francisco measure that would have severely curtailed the company’s business in its hometown, Airbnb staged a news conference that functioned as a warning shot to other cities thinking about proposing new regulations.

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