Airbnb Is Sponsoring the New York City Marathon. The State Can’t Be Happy About It.

A blog about business and economics.
July 7 2014 5:24 PM

Airbnb to Sponsor NYC Marathon

131638686-runners-make-their-way-up-1st-avenue-in-manhattan
Runners swarm First Avenue in Manhattan during the 2011 New York City Marathon.

Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

The New York Road Runners are adding a new sponsor to their list for this year's New York City Marathon, and the state might not be too happy about it. Airbnb, the home-sharing and alternative hotel-rental site, announced last week that it had partnered with NYRR to sponsor the iconic race.

"Bringing people together and helping travelers belong anywhere they go is what the Airbnb community is all about, and we know Airbnb hosts will open their doors and welcome runners who can't wait to have an authentic New York experience during this incredible event," the company wrote in an email to New York City users.

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The New York attorney general's office only began resolving a months-long conflict with Airbnb over its operations in the state in late May; regulators turned their attention to Airbnb last fall on the suspicion that some landlords were breaking state law by renting out large numbers of apartments for a few days or weeks at a time—essentially operating illegal hotels. As part of a joint deal, Airbnb agreed to hand over "anonymized" data (stripped of personally identifiable information) on its New York hosts. The AG's office was given a year to weed out hosts in violation of local laws and the right to make Airbnb disclose the identities of hosts with suspicious activity.

The NYC Marathon generates $65 million in revenue annually for the hospitality industry—although Airbnb is positioning itself to take a bigger share of that haul. During last year's marathon, more than 10,000 visitors lodged with Airbnb, the company said in its email to New York City users. In a blog post leading up to the event, Airbnb estimated that New Yorkers renting out their homes would earn around $1 million during the weekend to guests from all over the world. Because its investigation of Airbnb is ongoing, the attorney general's office declined to comment on the sponsorship. But depending what the investigation turns up in the next few months, there might be increased tensions between the two when Marathon Weekend rolls around this fall.

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.

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