Workplace

Airbnb believes work-cations are here to stay. Hybrid workplaces beg to differ.

Better take your bleisure trips while you still can.

A leisurely Airbnb

Nearly 175,000 Airbnb guests stayed for three months or longer in the past year.

Photo: Airbnb

As big tech offices begin to open back up, is working from anywhere here to stay? Airbnb sure thinks so.

Financially, Airbnb had its best fourth quarter in the company’s history, raking in $1.5 billion in revenue and $55 million in net income, a record for the company. Its annual revenue for 2021 was $6 billion, up 77% year over year and up 25% from 2019, with a net loss of $352 million for the year, compared to $4.5 billion in 2020.

Airbnb has continued to reap the benefits of “the new normal” this past quarter, with many workers taking long-term trips as remote work gave more people the opportunity to work from a Hobbit-esque “earth house” in Montana or take Zoom calls from a covered wagon in Nevada. The average trip length has increased by 15% over the past two years, and rentals lasting a week or longer represent close to half of all bookings in this past quarter. Bookings of 28 nights or longer held strong as Airbnb’s fastest-growing trip category by length, accounting for 22% of gross nights, compared to 16% in the fourth quarter of 2019. Nearly 175,000 Airbnb guests stayed for three months or longer in the past year.

“Remote work has untethered people from the need to be in an office,” said Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, in the company’s Tuesday earnings call.

Airbnb is betting on the continuation of this trend by making “Live anywhere on Airbnb” one of its 2022 priorities. It aims to attract more hosts by listening to the “obstacles, myths, and misconceptions there are to becoming a Host” as a way to meet demand.

“We want to design for this new world by making it even easier for guests to live on Airbnb,” the company said in its earnings release. “In 2022, we will accelerate our pace of innovation as millions of people live in Airbnbs for weeks, months, or entire seasons at a time.”

But working from anywhere might no longer be so easy as some tech companies begin their return to the office. Microsoft announced Monday that it will reopen its Washington and Bay Area offices at the end of February, and Meta announced in January that its return to in-person work would begin at the end of March. Meanwhile, companies like Twitter and Salesforce have already embraced in-person work in recent months.

The rise of the hybrid workplace is likely to affect the future of the work-cation, said Brian Kropp, chief of HR research for consulting firm Gartner. More and more businesses are adopting one of two hybrid models of work: either requiring multiple days in the office per week or allowing employees to come into the office “when it makes the most sense” for them, he said. As many begin to require some time in the office (including Meta and Salesforce), extended stays for weeks or months are likely to drop, while “four-day weekend and five-day weekend” trips pick up.

“You probably are going to see a shifting of what these bookings look like, but still have a fair amount as people take advantage of that longer time,” Kropp told Protocol. “I think we're still going to see a lot of demand for these short- to medium-term times spent at Airbnbs, but what we're not likely to see is, like, the three-month stay.”

If your office is still remote, maybe take that month-long trip to the mountains while you still can.

Entertainment

Niantic is building an AR map of the world

The company’s Visual Positioning System will help developers build location-based AR games and experiences; a new social app aims to help with AR content discovery.

VPS will allow developers to build location-based AR experiences for tens of thousands of public spaces.

Image: Niantic

Pokémon Go maker Niantic has quietly been building a 3D AR map of the world. Now, the company is getting ready to share the fruits of its labor with third-party developers: Niantic announced the launch of its Lightship Visual Positioning System at its developer summit in San Francisco on Tuesday. VPS will allow developers to build location-based AR experiences for tens of thousands of public spaces, Niantic said.

Niantic also announced a new service called Campfire that adds a social discovery layer to AR, starting with Niantic’s own games. Both announcements show that Niantic wants to be much more than a game developer with just one or two hit apps (and a couple of flops). Instead, it aims to play a key role in the future of AR — and it’s relying on millions of Ingress and Pokémon Go players to help build that future.

Keep Reading Show less
Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

Sponsored Content

Why the digital transformation of industries is creating a more sustainable future

Qualcomm’s chief sustainability officer Angela Baker on how companies can view going “digital” as a way not only toward growth, as laid out in a recent report, but also toward establishing and meeting environmental, social and governance goals.

Three letters dominate business practice at present: ESG, or environmental, social and governance goals. The number of mentions of the environment in financial earnings has doubled in the last five years, according to GlobalData: 600,000 companies mentioned the term in their annual or quarterly results last year.

But meeting those ESG goals can be a challenge — one that businesses can’t and shouldn’t take lightly. Ahead of an exclusive fireside chat at Davos, Angela Baker, chief sustainability officer at Qualcomm, sat down with Protocol to speak about how best to achieve those targets and how Qualcomm thinks about its own sustainability strategy, net zero commitment, other ESG targets and more.

Keep Reading Show less
Chris Stokel-Walker

Chris Stokel-Walker is a freelance technology and culture journalist and author of "YouTubers: How YouTube Shook Up TV and Created a New Generation of Stars." His work has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian and Wired.

Workplace

Why it's time to give all your employees executive coaching

In an effort to boost retention and engagement, companies are rolling out access to executive coaching to all of their employees.

Coaching is among personalized and exclusive benefits employers chose to offer their workforce during the pandemic.

Image: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Executive coaching has long been a quiet force behind leaders in the tech industry, but that premium benefit, often only offered to the top executives, is changing. A new wave of executive coaching services are hitting the market aimed at workers who would have traditionally been excluded from access.

Tech companies know that in order to stay competitive in today’s still-hot job market, it pays to offer more personalized and exclusive benefits. Chief People Officer Annette Reavis says Envoy, a workplace tech company, offers all employees access to a broad range of opportunities. “We offer everyone an L&D credit that they can spend on outside learning, whether it's executive coaching or learning a new coding language. We do this so that people can have access to and learn skills specific to their job.”

Keep Reading Show less
Amber Burton

Amber Burton (@amberbburton) is a reporter at Protocol. Previously, she covered personal finance and diversity in business at The Wall Street Journal. She earned an M.S. in Strategic Communications from Columbia University and B.A. in English and Journalism from Wake Forest University. She lives in North Carolina.

Enterprise

Microsoft thinks Windows developers are ready for virtual workstations

The new Microsoft Dev Box service, coupled with Azure Deployment Environments, lets developers go from code to the cloud faster than ever.

Microsoft hopes a new cloud service will address one of developers' biggest challenges.

Photo: Grant Hindsley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Microsoft hopes a new cloud service will address one of the biggest challenges that developers have raised with the technology giant over the last several years: managing developer workstations.

Microsoft Dev Box, now in private preview, creates virtual developer workstations running its Windows operating system in the cloud, allowing development teams to standardize how those fundamental tools are initialized, set up and managed.

Keep Reading Show less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Enterprise

Okta CEO: 'We should have done a better job' with the Lapsus$ breach

In an interview with Protocol, Okta CEO Todd McKinnon said the cybersecurity firm could’ve done a lot of things better after the Lapsus$ breach of a third-party support provider earlier this year.

From talking to hundreds of customers, “I've had a good sense of the sentiment and the frustrations,” McKinnon said.

Photo: David Paul Morris via Getty Images

Okta co-founder and CEO Todd McKinnon agrees with you: Disclosing a breach that impacts customer data should not take months.

“If that happens in January, customers can't be finding out about it in March,” McKinnon said in an interview with Protocol.

Keep Reading Show less
Kyle Alspach

Kyle Alspach ( @KyleAlspach) is a senior reporter at Protocol, focused on cybersecurity. He has covered the tech industry since 2010 for outlets including VentureBeat, CRN and the Boston Globe. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and can be reached at kalspach@procotol.com.

Latest Stories
Bulletins