2. Airbnb

A place to call home (at least for a while)

Founders: Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk, Joe Gebbia
Launched: 2008
Funding: $2.5 billion
Valuation: $25.5 billion
Disrupting: Hotels, travel
Rival: HomeAway

AIrbnb founders Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk, and Brian Chesky.
Source: Airbnb
AIrbnb founders Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk, and Brian Chesky.

Home-sharing giant Airbnb has already changed the way people think about lodging. Now a new campaign, recently launched by the company, wants to overhaul the way we view traveling altogether. Called "Live There," the new campaign was launched this spring and is designed to address the frustration travelers have with run-of-the-mill tourist offerings. So instead of staying in an overpriced, crowded hotel in Paris, the TV ad suggests using Airbnb to "live" in Paris and experience this city — and of course, thousands of others — the Airbnb way.


The San Francisco-based online marketplace is now active in 34,000 cities in 191 countries and has over 1 million listings on its platform. The company claims to have booked 80 million nights so far.

For those who haven't seen the ads — or used the service themselves — Airbnb is an online marketplace that allows people with extra rooms — or even a couch — to rent to folks visiting their city. The hosts set the nightly rate they want to charge and Airbnb collects the payment, keeping a small slice for itself and passing the rest onto the host.

Over the years, the company has angered regulators in San Francisco and New York City who question whether the rentals are getting taxed properly. More recently, it began receiving waves of criticism from black users who claim that hosts are rejecting bookings because of their race. The company says it is trying to address the problem by educating hosts and guests, but hasn't been more specific than that.

None of this has stopped nearly $2.5 billion of venture money from pouring in from Andreessen Horowitz, and Amazon's Jeff Bezos. The company had estimated net revenues of nearly $900 million last year, according to multiple reports, but has remained mum on when — or if — an IPO is being planned for anytime soon.

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