It’s not easy for a Silicon Valley company to come to set up an office in France. The very thought of a foreign company making money off of French citizens gets under the skin of France’s finance minister, and the public discourse around multinational Internet companies has been quite negative in recent years.
Airbnb remains one of the exceptions to the rule, and has not only set up a Paris office, but has integrated itself into the local community. Far from sticking to the comforts of the startup ecosystem, Airbnb has played an integral role in supporting the collaborative consumption community through partnerships with conferences like Ouishare (pronounced ‘We Share’), and currently counts more than 20,000 listings in Paris alone – that’s more than double that of its San Francisco headquarters.
Integrating locally is always a tough job for any company expanding into a new market, and Airbnb is certainly no different. The Paris office, which, like all Airbnb offices, resembles an apartment one might find on the platform, has gone beyond what one might expect from a local office. Earlier this year, Airbnb’s French country manager Olivier Grémillon was promoted from head of France to head of EMEA, suggesting that, whatever they are doing in here in France, they’re doing it right.
We recently featured Airbnb’s office in our Photo Essay “The Paris Startup Scene,” and with the photos above, you can imagine why. Those are not a study & a child’s bedroom, but conference rooms where employees go to reflect and have 1-on-1 meetings.
Replacing Grémillon at the head of Airbnb France, Nicolas Ferrary has been integral in keeping the discourse between France and Airbnb open, which has ultimately resulted in legislation proposals that are much more beneficial than those proposed in Berlin & New York City. Current legislation would require that Airbnb hosts renting out a vacation home (or non-primary residence) declare it as such; Ferrary says that this was in part a result of Airbnb explaining that the vast majority of hosts were renting out their primary residences. The law’s purpose is to deter real estate investors from buying up large sums of property and renting them out on Airbnb as ‘unofficial hotels;’ similar justification has been used in Berlin & New York City.