At Expedia, we never stand still. Now we're expanding our Lodging Partner Services division –LPS for short. Right now we're investing in LPS, taking on new people in our Global Market Management and Partner Account Management teams. We're the people that find, sign up, onboard, market, and support the hundreds of thousands of hotels across the world on which our business relies. Without us, there'd be no Expedia.
To help fund the site, the founders created special edition breakfast cereals, with presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain as the inspiration for "Obama O's" and "Cap'n McCains". In two months, 800 boxes of cereal were sold at $40 each, which generated more than $30,000 for the company's incubation. It also got the company noticed by computer programmer Paul Graham, who invited the founders to the January 2009 winter training session of his startup incubator, Y Combinator, which provided them with training and $20,000 in funding in exchange for a small interest in the company. With the website already built, they used the $20,000 Y-Combinator investment to fly to New York City to meet users and promote the site. They returned to San Francisco with a profitable business model to present to West Coast investors. By March 2009, the site had 10,000 users and 2,500 listings.
Hosts provide prices and other details for their rental or event listings. Pricing is determined by the host, with recommendations from Airbnb. Hosts may be required to report income and pay income taxes on income received via Airbnb. In the US, homeowners who refinance their mortgages with some agencies are able to count income they earn from Airbnb rentals on their refinance loan applications.