Professor Kenney Effectively Shuts Down Airbnb Ad Campaign with Her Facebook Post

Thursday, October 22, 2015
Photo of Martha Kenney

FAST COMPANY -- San Francisco State Assistant Professor Martha Kenney posted an open letter to Airbnb on Facebook that sums up local opposition to the marketing sentiment.

“Dear Airbnb,

“I’m happy to hear that you paid your taxes this year. I did too! Isn’t it awesome?

“However, I’ve crunched some numbers and I have some bad news for you. Out of your $12 mil of hotel tax, only 1.4 percent goes to the SF Public Libraries. So that’s $168,000. Divided by the 868 library staff, we have $193 per person. Assuming each employee works five days per week minus holidays, this is $0.78 per employee per day. Since that’s significantly under San Francisco minimum wage ($12.25/hour), I doubt that your hotel tax can keep the libraries open more than a minute or two later.

“However, had you donated that $8 million you spent fighting Proposition F directly to the public libraries you love so much, that could have made a bigger difference. Oh well. Hindsight is 20/20!”

In a statement to SF Weekly, Airbnb apologized and said it’s taking down the billboards and posters. “The intent was to show the hotel tax contribution from our hosts and guests, which is roughly $1 million per month. It was the wrong tone and we apologize to anyone who was offended. These ads are being taken down immediately.”

Photo by Hannah Anderson