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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Today Crunch News, News Updates, Tech News

Today Crunch News, News Updates, Tech News


Airbnb’s New Year’s Eve guest volume shows its falling growth rate

Posted: 01 Jan 2020 07:49 AM PST

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

It’s finally 2020, the year that should bring us a direct listing from home-sharing giant Airbnb, a technology company valued at tens of billions of dollars. The company’s flotation will be a key event in this coming year’s technology exit market. Expect the NYSE and Nasdaq to compete for the listing, bankers to queue to take part, and endless media coverage.

Given that that’s ahead, we’re going to take periodic looks at Airbnb as we tick closer to its eventual public market debut. And that means that this morning we’re looking back through time to see how fast the company has grown by using a quirky data point.

Airbnb releases a regular tally of its expected “guest stays” for New Year’s Eve each year, including 2019. We can therefore look back in time, tracking how quickly (or not) Airbnb’s New Year Eve guest tally has risen. This exercise will provide a loose, but fun proxy for the company’s growth as a whole.

The numbers

Before we look into the figures themselves, keep in mind that we are looking at a guest figure which is at best a proxy for revenue. We don’t know the revenue mix of the guest stays, for example, meaning that Airbnb could have seen a 10% drop in per-guest revenue this New Year’s Eve — even with more guest stays — and we’d have no idea.

So, the cliche about grains of salt and taking, please.

But as more guests tends to mean more rentals which points towards more revenue, the New Year’s Eve figures are useful as we work to understand how quickly Airbnb is growing now compared to how fast it grew in the past. The faster the company is expanding today, the more it’s worth. And given recent news that the company has ditched profitability in favor of boosting its sales and marketing spend (leading to sharp, regular deficits in its quarterly results), how fast Airbnb can grow through higher spend is a key question for the highly-backed, San Francisco-based private company.

Here’s the tally of guest stays in Airbnb’s during New Years Eve (data via CNBC, Jon Erlichman, Airbnb), and their resulting year-over-year growth rates:

  • 2009: 1,400
  • 2010: 6,000 (+329%)
  • 2011: 3,1000 (+417%)
  • 2012: 108,000 (248%)
  • 2013: 250,000 (+131%)
  • 2014: 540,000 (+116%)
  • 2015: 1,100,000 (+104%)
  • 2016: 2,000,000 (+82%)
  • 2017: 3,000,000 (+50%)
  • 2018: 3,700,000 (+23%)
  • 2019: 4,500,000 (+22%)

In chart form, that looks like this:

Let’s talk about a few things that stand out. First is that the company’s growth rate managed to stay over 100% for as long as it did. In case you’re a SaaS fan, what Airbnb pulled off in its early years (again, using this fun proxy for revenue growth) was far better than a triple-triple-double-double-double.

Next, the company’s growth rate in percentage terms has slowed dramatically, including in 2019. At the same time the firm managed to re-accelerate its gross guest growth in 2019. In numerical terms, Airbnb added 1,000,000 New Year’s Eve guest stays in 2017, 700,000 in 2018, and 800,000 in 2019. So 2019’s gross adds was not a record, but it was a better result than its year-ago tally.

The California Consumer Privacy Act officially takes effect today

Posted: 01 Jan 2020 06:01 AM PST

California’s much-debated privacy law officially takes effect today, a year and a half after it was passed and signed — but it’ll be six more months before you see the hammer drop on any scofflaw tech companies that sell your personal data without your permission.

The California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, is a state-level law that requires, among other things, that companies notify users of the intent to monetize their data, and give them a straightforward means of opting out of said monetization.

Here’s a top-level summary of some of its basic tenets:

  • Businesses must disclose what information they collect, what business purpose they do so for and any third parties they share that data with.
  • Businesses will be required to comply with official consumer requests to delete that data.
  • Consumers can opt out of their data being sold, and businesses can't retaliate by changing the price or level of service.
  • Businesses can, however, offer "financial incentives" for being allowed to collect data.
  • California authorities are empowered to fine companies for violations.

The law is described in considerably more detail here, but the truth is that it will probably take years before its implications for businesses and regulators are completely understood and brought to bear. In the meantime the industries that will be most immediately and obviously affected are panicking.

A who’s-who of internet-reliant businesses has publicly opposed the CCPA. While they have been careful to avoid saying such regulation is unnecessary, they have said that this regulation is unnecessary. What we need, they say, is a federal law.

That’s true as far as it goes — it would protect more people and there would be less paperwork for companies that now must adapt their privacy policies and reporting to CCPA’s requirements. But the call for federal regulation is transparently a stall tactic, and an adequate bill at that level would likely take a year or more of intensive work even at the best of times, let alone during an election year while the President is being impeached.

So California wisely went ahead and established protections for its own residents, though as a consequence it will have aroused the ire of many companies based there.

A six-month grace period follows today’s official activation of the CCPA; This is a normal and necessary part of breaking in such a law, when honest mistakes can go unpunished and the inevitable bugs in the system can be squelched.

But starting in June offenses will be assessed with fines at the scale of thousands of dollars per violation, something that adds up real quick at the scales companies like Google and Facebook work in.

Adapting to the CCPA will be difficult, but as the establishment of GDPR in Europe has shown, it’s far from impossible, and at any rate the former’s requirements are considerably less stringent. Still, if your company isn’t already working on getting in compliance, better get started.

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