Airbnb considering long-term rental market

Startup asked McKinsey & Co. to study Craigslist

From left: Airbnb Founders Nathan Blecharczyk, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky (Credit: Getty Images)
From left: Airbnb Founders Nathan Blecharczyk, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky (Credit: Getty Images)

Airbnb might be getting into the long-term rental business.

The home-sharing startup has asked McKinsey & Co. to research the market and conduct a competitive analysis of Craigslist, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources.

The $31 billion company has a sublet section on its website since 2011, which lists apartments and houses to rent by the month in more than 5,000 cities. But the feature isn’t advertised on the website, and is not exactly fine-tuned. It requires renters, for example, to put in an end date for their stays. An expansion into long-term rentals would likely require Airbnb to work out some kind of option for renters to pay for things like utilities and recurring service fees.

A spokesperson for Airbnb declined to comment, saying only that the company is constantly considering dozens of new initiatives and new product categories, many of which never become actual products.

“Examining different parts of the market is standard operating procedure, and we don’t have any announcements to make,” spokesperson Nick Papas told Bloomberg.

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Airbnb has been hampered in New York City by legislation designed to curb short-term rentals. The company recently bought the Canada-based short-term luxury rental website Luxury Retreats International for a rumored $200 million.

McKinsey is expected to present its findings to Airbnb’s senior leadership next month.

Craigslist has about 60 million U.S. visitors a month, according to the internet research firm ComScore, which is a huge user base Airbnb would look to tap into. Despite Craigslist’s popularity, however, the website looks much like it did when it launched more than 20 years ago, and doesn’t vet its listings.

A study from New York University in March 2016 found that Craigslist fails to identify and remove more than half of the phony rental listings on the site. [Bloomberg]Rich Bockmann