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Building the cult of airbnb

From The Upstarts, by Brad Stone, loc 3490:

In January 2013, Chesky hired a new head of community who shared his devotion to the cause —Douglas Atkin, a former advertising agency executive who had written a 2005 book, The Culting of Brands: Turn Your Customers into True Believers, that drew business lessons from devotional sects like the Hare Krishnas. “The opportunity for creating cult brands has never been better,” Atkin wrote in the book’s epilogue. “Too many marketers have adopted a defensive attitude when actually they are on the brink of creating some of the most tenacious bonds between their brands and customers.” Atkin fervently believed that Airbnb wasn’t only a company but an ideology and a global movement that existed in a realm beyond provincial laws forged in a dramatically different age. One of Atkin’s first acts at Airbnb was to help start an independent group, called Peers, with the financial backing of Airbnb itself and a mission to support members of the sharing economy. Peers would hold meet-ups in cities where Airbnb and its fellow upstarts faced political hurdles and organize political actions to influence lawmakers. So Atkin’s advice to Chesky about the New York battle was clear —he wanted the company to stand up to Eric Schneiderman and fight.

This reflects a broader commitment that “the best tactic was simply to grow, harnessing the political influence of their user base to become too big to regulate” (loc 3582).

Categories: Archive Shadow Mobilization, Astroturfing and Manipulation The Political Economy of Digital Capitalism The Sharing Economy Thinking

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