Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo Loses Government Relations Head to Airbnb (Internal Memo Time!)

Yahoo’s David Hantman, who has been its deputy general counsel and VP of global public policy, is taking a similar job at the online rentals start-up Airbnb, according to an internal email memo he sent today.

The job move is interesting, given the many regulatory issues that the San Francisco-based company faces in local markets as it grows.

Hantman is already coming out swinging in his internal memo to Yahoo staffers about the departure:

“[Airbnb has] some huge challenges with a few antiquated laws in their biggest markets, so my job will be to help them convince governments that allowing people to rent out their own homes or apartments should not be a problem, and that in fact it is great for the economy and for the tons of people that can only pay their mortgage or rent through the extra income they get from airbnb … As always, I like to be on the right side of history, and I believe in the mission and the team over there.”

An Airbnb spokewoman (also a former Yahoo) confirmed the hiring. (I did not even try Yahoo’s current PR personage, as I already have the memo and she never calls back, anyway.)

Here’s Hantman’s full email to Yahoo staffers on the move:

From: David Hantman
Date: Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 9:41 AM
Subject: A brief announcement to help clutter your inbox
To: David Hantman

Friends –

With apologies for the impersonal nature of this e-mail, I wanted to let you know that I recently accepted a job at an exciting new company called airbnb, and will thus be leaving Yahoo! next month. I am already assisting in the process to select my successor, which will hopefully be complete soon.

This is a bittersweet departure for me, since I leave behind an awesome team and a company I love and believe in. But while I have loved every day of my 5+ years at Yahoo!, I am very excited to return to my startup roots. When I graduated law school way back in 1994, the first thing I did was to co-found an Internet company with a couple of friends. That company eventually went public, but I walked away for my Capitol Hill dream long before it had a viable business model (or really anything other than a few of us trying to convince the world that the Internet was going to be awesome someday). For the last five years, I have had the privilege of working for and among my heroes — people who turned a simple list of neat web sites in 1995 into a company that serves 700 million users and helped revolutionize the way people get and share information around the world.

Now, though, I have a second chance at the startup life — this time at a company whose brilliant founders have already proved it to be an amazing and disruptive business. I am excited to join an incredible team at airbnb and, hopefully, to be a small part of their future success. Airbnb is maybe the most successful little known company in the world. Millions of people have used the service to rent rooms or entire apartments — even private islands — as an alternative to hotels. They have some huge challenges with a few antiquated laws in their biggest markets, so my job will be to help them convince governments that allowing people to rent out their own homes or apartments should not be a problem, and that in fact it is great for the economy and for the tons of people that can only pay their mortgage or rent through the extra income they get from airbnb. For hundreds of years families have been taking in boarders or renting out extra space, and this service is just bringing that process into the 21st century, at a time when it is more needed than ever. As always, I like to be on the right side of history, and I believe in the mission and the team over there.

Anyway, please let’s stay in touch. I will be headquartered in DC to start, and while this yahoo-inc e-mail will soon stop working, my personal e-mail will stay the same:

xxx@xxx.com [redacted by ATD, since it is Hantman's personal email]

All the best!

David


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald