Cuba is Airbnb’s fastest-growing market

Toluse Olorunnipa  |  Bloomberg News  |  May 11, 2015

Cuba Diplomatic SurgeAirbnb Inc. Chief Executive Brian Chesky said Cuba is the company’s fastest-growing market, and President Barack Obama’s decision to reopen ties with the island nation has been a boon to the room-sharing service.

“Forty days ago we launched in Cuba, we launched with 1,000 homes in Cuba — today we now have 2,000 homes,” he said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a market grow as fast as Cuba.”

San Francisco-based Airbnb last month became one of the first U.S. companies to begin operations in Cuba after Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro said in December they would restore diplomatic ties after more than 50 years. While Americans still are banned from visiting Cuba as tourists, the policy changes remove several restrictions on travel and trade between the two countries.

During a meeting with Castro in Panama last month, Obama said he would urge Congress to end the five-decade trade embargo against Cuba.

“President Obama has a desire to bring these two communities together — Americans and Cubans,” said Chesky, who was in Washington on Monday for a meeting with Obama and other entrepreneurs intended to promote the administration’s global entrepreneurship program. “What better way to bring them together than actually in their homes?”

The White House named Chesky as a presidential ambassador for global entrepreneurship on Monday. Obama is scheduled to lead a Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi in July.

Chesky said he has “no immediate plans” to take his company public.

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