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Airbnb: What you need to know before becoming a guest or host

Why it matters to you

Airbnb seems like a win-win for the host and guest, but there are some things to keep in mind before you become either.

Instead of copying travel sites like Expedia and TravelocityAirbnb takes a totally unique approach. Part of the “sharing economy,” Airbnb offers you someone’s home as a place to stay, instead of a hotel. On Airbnb, you can find places to crash on your backpacking trip through Europe, or you can find a place to stay for a month during your internship in LA.

If you want to rent out extra space in your home, you can host through Airbnb and make money for allowing a guest to stay the night. Here’s what you need to know about Airbnb before you book a stay or become a host.

More: Welcome to London: Airbnb is using Twitter live 360 video to showcase travel spots

Airbnb had a rough start

Airbnb founders Joe Gebbia, Brian Chesky, and Nathan Blecharczyk developed the business in 2008. Initially, Gebbia and Chesky started off using their own place as a bed and breakfast to make a few extra bucks to pay rent. With a big design conference coming to the San Francisco area and a city full of sold-out hotels at the time, they saw a potential market for the idea and developed a website called airbedandbreakfast.com. To fund their operation, the guys sold breakfast cereals during the 2008 presidential race — Obama O’s and Cap’n McCains — and the cereals earned them around $30,000.

Airbnb was not an immediate success, though. The startup experienced several ups and downs, and it went through at least three separate launches. A number of investors didn’t take the idea seriously. However, one venture capitalist, Paul Graham, did see a potential lottery ticket in Air Bed & Breakfast. Graham invited the founders to join a program called Y Combinator, which provides a startup with cash and training in exchange for a percentage of their company. In 2009, Air Bed & Breakfast became Airbnb, and that was the company’s turning point. As of August 2016, Airbnb was worth $30 billion, Business Insider reports.

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