Tech experts warn anti-Airbnb law will hurt New York businesses

ALBANY – Tech industry experts fear a new anti-Airbnb law will hurt New York’s ability to attract high-tech businesses.

The measure signed into law by Gov. Cuomo last week comes on the heels of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft losing their bid this year to expand upstate.

Also, online fantasy sports betting sites like FanDuel, DraftKings and Yahoo temporally shut down in New York after Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued them. They are now back in business after the Legislature passed legislation in June that legalized and regulated such sites.

“It is absolutely an issue of concern that New York is gaining an anti-tech reputation,” said Julie Samuels, executive director of Tech:NYC, an advocacy group. “That would be incredibly unfortunate. But when you see legislation pass that makes it very difficult for firms to operate here, it definitely sends a message we think will make it harder to attract tech talent and tech entrepreneurs.”

Airbnb to file suit after Cuomo signs threatening bill

She said there’s nothing wrong with the state trying to regulate a new technology like home-sharing. But she said it could have been done in a more comprehensive and reasonable way. Samuels said that still can happen.

The anti-Airbnb bill signed into law by Cuomo on Friday prohibits advertising illegal units on online home-sharing sites and imposes fines of up to $7,500 per violation. Airbnb has sued to block the law.

Airbnb officials blamed entrenched interests, notably the hotel industry and its politically-influential worker union, for putting up the roadblocks.

Neal Kwatra, a strategist for the ShareBetter coalition made up of unions, elected officials, and housing and tenant activists that successfully pushed the anti-Airbnb bill, and others deny New York is hostile to new economy tech companies. Kwatra said companies like FanDuel, BuzzFeed, Vox Media, and WeWork are thriving in New York City.

James and McKee: Airbnb is a disease; we have the cure

Sources also said they expect the Legislature in 2017 will authorize Uber and Lyft to expand to upstate cities.

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The measure signed into law by Gov. Cuomo comes on the heels of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft losing their bid this year to expand upstate.

(Marcus Santos/New York Daily News)

“Airbnb sounds and acts a lot like Donald Trump these days,” Kwatra said. “Both say everything is biased and rigged against them and they both sue anyone and everyone who tries to hold them accountable for breaking the law.”

Kwatra said Airbnb is not only fighting with New York but has also sued San Francisco, Berlin and Barcelona.

“Airbnb has created a new class of victimhood-the beleaguered $30 billion corporation who screams bias whenever they are asked to follow the law,” he said.

The great Airbnb crackdown

ShareBetter has a new ad it will run for a week starting Monday on broadcast and cable television accusing Airbnb of saying it wants to help the middle class while actually hurting the availability of affordable housing units in the city while also driving up rents “to nearly twice the city average.”. It’s also set to unleash a digital ad campaign thanking Cuomo for signing the bill.

The TV airtime was originally purchased before Cuomo, who had until this coming Friday to sign or veto the bill, signed the measure last week.

The ShareBetter coalition kept the ad up knowing the issue is not going away, particularly after the company filed a legal challenge Friday, a source said.

Airbnb spokesman Peter Schottenfels shot back that “while various editorial boards and objective experts have all agreed that this was a backroom deal where New York’s middle class was given the bum’s rush by some of the state’s most powerful special interests, it is in fact Share Better – a front group for the hotel cartel – that is actually representing Donald Trump’s properties.”

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