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New Airbnb feature will match landlords and hosts ‘with proper guardrails in place’: Co-founder

Airbnb Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Nathan Blecharczyk breaks down the lodging app's new matchmaking feature to pair hosts with landlords and examines Airbnb's outlook amid the current housing market.

Video transcript

DAVE BRIGGS: Shares of Airbnb also up today. They're up more than 5 and 1/2% today on news they're partnering with major landlords, launching a platform which allows renters to become hosts. The rentals will be in 175 so-called Airbnb-friendly buildings in more than 25 major markets, including LA, San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Denver, and many more. New York and Washington, DC are not participating due to local restrictions.

Joining us now is Nathan Blecharczyk. Good to have you here, Airbnb co-founder and chief strategy officer. So there has been a little confusion about this rollout. In your words, describe for us what Airbnb is undertaking.

NATHAN BLECHARCZYK: Well, as we all know, the cost of living has been increasing. And when we survey our hosts, 41% of them tell us that hosting helps them to offset this increase in the cost of living and pay for the necessities in their lives. We also know that over the pandemic, 60 million people have come to Airbnb to learn about hosting, but have not yet signed up.

And one of the major reasons we believe, based on, again, surveying, is that it can be difficult to get the permission of your landlord in order to participate if you're a renter, if you don't own your home. And it's for those who don't own their own home that usually have-- are less financially established. And so, arguably, hosting could have an even bigger impact in the lives of those who rent.

And so with this new program, Airbnb-friendly apartments, we are making it possible to find over 175 buildings across the United States in 25 different cities that allow you to host on a part-time basis if it's your primary home. And so this is really helping those who want to host find the landlords who are supportive of hosting, again, with the proper kind of guardrails in place.

SEANA SMITH: Nathan, talk to us just about how much people could potentially earn from doing this because I know as part of this platform, there is a calculator on there to help predict the potential earnings that somebody could get from this new offering.

NATHAN BLECHARCZYK: The early participants in the program hosted, on average, nine nights a month and earned, on average, $100 a night. Now, of course, that's going to vary by city and by building. And to help with that, we have a calculator on the profile page of every building. So you can understand, well, this particular floor plan with these assumptions around how often I'm able to host, here's what I can expect to earn.

But again, this is something for tenants and hosts to do on a part-time basis in their primary home, not full-time. The buildings have rules in place to prevent that. And we provide them the tools to enforce that.

DAVE BRIGGS: Landlords, property managers, any arrangement there where they'll be paid as part of this?

NATHAN BLECHARCZYK: Well, their primary interest is in differentiating themselves by really showing that they are supportive of hosting. And by being featured on the Airbnb platform, they'll have access to those prospective tenants and hosts who are interested in that. Secondarily, they do share in the host earnings. And so that will vary by building. Typically, it's about 20%. But again, it will vary.

SEANA SMITH: So, Nathan, right now, Airbnb showcasing 175 apartment buildings, more than 25 major markets. Dave listed some of them there at the top of the interview segment here. What does the growth potential look like for this platform five, 10 years down the road?

NATHAN BLECHARCZYK: Well, I think, zooming out, there are four million hosts on Airbnb today. And that's, obviously, a small number in the grand scheme of the world. When you think about Airbnb and travel, a lot of people have used Airbnb to travel, right? It's very ubiquitous . Hundreds of millions of people have traveled on Airbnb.

But if you look at hosting, again, 4 million. We do know, over the pandemic, 60 million people have come to learn about hosting. And we have done a number of things in recent months to make it easier to become a host. Airbnb-friendly apartments is one of those things.

But two weeks ago, we announced new features, including the ability to, as a first-time host, host an experienced guest, someone who's used Airbnb before, gotten top ratings, because, again, one of the concerns we know that people have is, well, who is my first guest going to be? Is that going to be a positive experience when I'm new to Airbnb? And so this is one of many new features we're rolling out to help people get started.

During this time when, I think, many people are finding inflation and increases in the cost of living to be challenging, here's something that people can do, starting today, to help out with their finances.

DAVE BRIGGS: No doubt. I got a bedroom. It made me think twice. Maybe calling my wife see if we could rent that out. You're a public company. Your obligation is to your shareholders. Have you done any calculations, though, in terms of what this does to supply of long-term rentals across the country, and therefore, rents, which have been very problematic in the economy, up 15% last year. Down a bit, but still up this year. How will it impact those?

NATHAN BLECHARCZYK: Well, there are so many factors affecting rents and affordability. And there's just fundamentally a shortage in housing. And there's no silver bullet to change that, and certainly, not quickly, unfortunately. But what we're offering today is a real solution for those who are open to hosting. And again, we're trying to address the needs that the audience has.

And we're well informed by those who are already on our platform hosting. And they're telling us that-- 41% of our hosts are telling us that hosting is helping them get by during these times. And so this is about helping in the immediate future as many people as possible.

SEANA SMITH: Airbnb moving to the upside on this news today, up just over 5%. Nathan Blecharczyk, great to have you. Thanks so much for joining us this afternoon.