The scary story of Airbnb user EJ who says her apartment was ransacked by Airbnb renters, and then said that when she blogged her story the company tried to get her to shut up about it, is turning into a war of words. Now Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator, Airbnb investor and one of the most respected men in Silicon Valley, has taken to his site Hacker News to respond to the controversy.
He says that Airbnb has been trying to do right by EJ from the beginning: “From the beginning they offered to pay to get her a new place and new stuff, and do whatever else she wanted. … I’ve talked to the Airbnb guys and they are already doing everything they could be doing to help this woman.”
He adds: “Even if you don’t believe they are nice guys (which they are, among the nicest of all the people we’ve funded), do you really think they are so dumb that they don’t realise it’s not worth the bad PR to save money and effort in this situation?”
Which is fair enough. But sometimes, even with the best intentions, people just screw up.
What Graham is saying seems to contradict what EJ has been writing. Graham’s post also calls out TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington for blowing up the story and being unfair. Arrington responded, essentially saying that the reason why this is a huge story is because of EJ’s posts and Airbnb’s PR, which we agree with.
Arrington also writes: “It kind of feels to me that what Airbnb really wants to do is call the victim, EJ, a liar. But they’re certainly not going to do that (although if they have evidence that she’s lying, they should be talking about that).”
That seems exactly right. EJ says Airbnb customer support took a day to respond to her, haven’t helped her financially, tried to get her to shut up about the case, and stopped being supportive after she went public. Graham says Airbnb has been “doing everything they could be doing to help this woman.” It has to be one or the other. If Airbnb wants to call EJ a liar, they should say she is and back it up.
There only seem to be two possibilities, here. Either Airbnb is lying or EJ is lying. Which is it?