In Transit Blog: Airbnb Unveils Warm Logo as It Gets Cool Legal Eye

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 20 Juli 2014 | 17.35

Photo Airbnb's new logo, whose design users can customize.Credit

Airbnb, the online lodging site that has recently provoked the ire of local governments in Barcelona, San Francisco and New York City, is out to win the public's affection with its new logo — an inverted, loopy heart.

It has a name, too: the bélo.

Joe Gebbia, a founder of Airbnb, explained that the French-inflected neologism comes from the word "belonging."

"It's a symbol that goes beyond representing the company and represents that things can be shared," he said. "This is much more than a corporate logo."

Whether the bélo supplants the peace sign remains to be seen. For the moment, those who stand to benefit from the company's rebranding are its hosts, who can customize the logo by color and design and print their individualized creations on mugs, T-shirts, stickers, even notepads.

"We're giving hosts the tools to brand themselves within our larger brand," Mr. Gebbia said.

Meanwhile, government officials like Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general, would like to bring governmental oversight to the entrepreneurship of those hosts. Last fall Mr. Schneiderman subpoenaed Airbnb, which has listings in 34,000 places in 192 countries and is valued at close to $10 billion, for information on thousands of hosts in New York City. Some, he argued, may be violating a 2010 state law that bars renters from subletting properties for fewer than 30 days if they are not present.

Mr. Schneiderman was not after individual apartment owners — neither the legal kind who rent rooms in their homes while they're present and whom Airbnb has featured in a promotional campaign in New York City this summer, nor those who rent out their homes while they're away for a weekend, technically illegal though that might be.

In a New York Times Op-Ed piece, Mr. Schneiderman wrote that he was targeting "large, commercial enterprises with dozens of apartments — truly illegal hotels."

In May, Airbnb and New York officials reached an agreement: Mr. Schneiderman would get the information he was seeking about Airbnb hosts, but it will be stripped of names and other personally identifiable information.

That the company's warm and fuzzy rebranding comes on the heels of the dispute is purely coincidental, said Nick Papas, a spokesman for Airbnb. "This initiative began more than a year ago and was part of our ongoing effort to strengthen our brand around the world," he said.

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