On the back of violence sparked by extremists in the US, Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk said the company cancelled reservations made by some users after it had become aware of a gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville – the largest in decades.
“We make every one of our users sign a pledge when they sign up that they will not discriminate and exhibit hatred”, he said. “Whenever we become aware of such examples they are permanently banned from platform.”
Mr Blecharczyk, currently chief strategy officer for the property-rental startup, also revealed Airbnb’s new pivot into Asia – a growing market it sees as the biggest opportunity “on the planet”.
He said the startup was targeting the region due to a growing number of easy travel connections between Asian countries and “the highest percentage of millenials in this region, more than any other part of the world”, many of whom have a good grasp of English and are tech savvy.
The startup entered Japan in June, where short-term home-sharing is now legal for up to 180 days.
The former Microsoft programme manager said Airbnb is investing more heavily into China, as it looked to a growing middle class more likely to travel.
Laws and regulations in Asian countries are varying and disparate, often proving more of a challenge for Airbnb than customary in Europe; it is currently illegal to rent a place for less than six month in Singapore.
When pressed on potential barriers of entry into south east Asia, Mr Blecharczyk said it was a waiting game to “play out over time”.