Airbnb is criticized for its impact on housing affordability, sparking protests, and for its related data management. As of the beginning of 2018, several studies found that rental prices in many areas increased due to Airbnb, as landlords kept properties off the longer-term rental market and instead get higher rental rates for short-term housing via Airbnb. Landlords have been accused of illegally evicting tenants in order to convert properties into Airbnb listings. In San Francisco, the issue led to protests in November 2015.
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.
Some cities have restrictions on subletting for a short period of time. Airbnb has published a list of regulations and requirements for cities in the United States. In some cities, collection of a transient occupancy tax by Airbnb is required. In many cities, hosts must register with the government and obtain a permit or license. Landlords or community associations may have restrictions on short-term sublets.