SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Home-booking company Airbnb has sparred with regulators across the globe, but Chief Executive Brian Chesky on Thursday spoke of coming to terms with his responsibility for how the company can impact housing markets and neighborhoods.
“Every year I think you have a sense you have even more responsibility than the year before,” Chesky said in an interview with Reuters.
Chesky’s view represents a striking evolution for the company, which just a few years ago defended itself as a passive technology platform, not responsible for what homes it listed or how they were used.
“When Airbnb started 10 years ago it was kind of the culture that you really can’t take responsibility for what happens on your platform,” he said. “We changed our point of view.”
Things are certainly different for Airbnb from when it began as a scrappy website for renting an air mattress on a stranger’s floor. Chesky said on Thursday that Airbnb’s revenue grew more than 50 percent from the end of 2016 to the end of 2017.
A person familiar with the matter previously told Reuters that Airbnb’s revenue last year topped $2.5 billion, about $1 billion of which occurred in the fourth quarter.
Chesky spoke to Reuters during an event at Airbnb headquarters in San Francisco, where the company announced new luxury services to attract more high-end travelers and unveiled a large-scale redesign of the company’s 4.5 million property listings to make it easier for travelers to find what they want.
Chesky said the company trimmed fat from its core home-renting business so it could turn a profit last…