Airbnb founder and CEO Brian Chesky yesterday introduced a significant new feature for the company’s app, demonstrating a really valuable inclination in the chief of any dominant company: aggressively using its size and power to become even more dominant.
The feature is called Guidebook and seems simple enough. It lets Airbnb hosts post information about their neighborhood – places to eat and drink, things to see – that renters can use to help them choose where to stay and decide what to do when they get there. But there’s more to Guidebook than may first be apparent. It keeps customers inside the Airbnb app when they might otherwise leave to check Yelp, Tripadvisor, or Google. That will help the company sell other, related services through the app, which it intends to do. Guidebook also lets Airbnb accumulate data on customers’ interests and preferences so it can better match travelers with accommodations they’ll like and thus increase bookings and perhaps gain intelligence on which additional services to offer. “Outside of the explicit filters travelers chose as a part of the matching process, we have sophisticated machine learning algorithms that tailor search to find the perfect place,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Another example of Chesky using Airbnb’s heft to its advantage: swooping into Cuba the moment it opened to U.S. business. As Fortune’s Erin Griffith explains in a fascinating article, Cuba already had a government regulated system of homes open to visitors. About 4,000 of them have signed up with Airbnb. Chesky traveled to Havana recently at the same time President Obama did, and the visit was a PR triumph. Chesky promoted “person-to-person diplomacy” and also introduced Cubans to a new form of entrepreneurship. I don’t know what kind of technologist Chesky may be, but I know he’s a winner obsessed with lengthening his lead.
I have some important though possibly depressing news about leadership. It isn’t really news; it’s research that has been around for a few years, but most people seem not to know about it, and it’s highly relevant to the moment. The bottom line is that we don’t need to study policy positions or polling numbers to figure out who’s going to win elections. We only have to look at the candidates’ faces.
Princeton neuroscientist Alexander Todorov has shown that we form judgments about others based on their faces without even knowing it, and we do it very quickly – in less than a second. The effect is astonishingly powerful. As he writes in a research article, “For example, we have shown that rapid judgments of competence based solely on facial appearance predict the election outcomes of both senatorial and gubernatorial races in the U.S. This finding has been replicated in a number of countries. In a recent, particularly dramatic demonstration of this effect, judgments of Swiss children predicted the outcomes of French parliamentary elections.”
Todorov hasn’t told us who’s going to win this presidential election, but his central finding is that people’s face-based, near-instantaneous judgment of a candidate’s competence, as distinct from attractiveness, dominance, or any other quality, is the overwhelmingly important factor. You take it from there.
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What We’re Reading Today
Another family member enters Redstone fray
Sumner Redstone‘s granddaughter, Keryn Redstone, has filed court papers accusing her aunt, Shari Redstone, of pushing for “do not resuscitate” orders against Sumner’s wishes. Keryn has petitioned to join the suit with Manuela Herzer, a former companion of Sumner, in challenging his mental competency. Shari denies the accusations. WSJ
Mayer reiterates commitment to selling
On Yahoo’s earnings call yesterday, CEO Marissa Mayer said she and the board are committed to selling Yahoo’s internet business, calling it a “top priority.” The bidding deadline passed on Monday; Verizon, the Daily Mail and TPG are among more than a dozen bidders. Lowell McAdam‘s Verizon is reportedly already on Yahoo’s shortlist. Financial Times
Intel to cut 12,000 employees
The cuts announced by CEO Brian Krzanich were far deeper than most investors had expected, as the company shifts away from processors for laptops. Krzanich is reviewing all of Intel’s product lines in an effort to move towards other technologies. He also shifted CFO Stacy Smith to a new job heading sales and manufacturing, giving him experience with other parts of the company and suggesting that Krzanich is preparing Smith as a potential successor. Fortune
EU charges Google with anti-competitive practices
European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager charged Google with using its dominant position as creator of the Android operating system to force phone manufacturers to pre-install Google apps such as Chrome and Search. Vestager says doing so stifles competition. Google, which could face significant fines, said it would work with Vestager to show why Google is good for competition. Reuters
Building a Better Leader
Target takes a stand on transgender bathroom policy
As states propose or enact bathroom laws, Target says transgender customers can use whichever bathroom they prefer. CNNMoney
The 25 best paying companies in America…
…have a median base salary of $130,000. Management consulting firm A.T. Kearney topped the list with annual median compensation of $167,534. Fortune
Google CEO gets over $100 million in 2015
CEO Sundar Pichai earned $652,500 in base pay plus stock options valued at nearly $100 million. WSJ
Donald Trump dominates New York primary
Trump won a commanding victory with 61% of the vote and gained nearly all of the state’s 95 delegates. Though the win improves his chances of accumulating a majority of delegates before the convention, the odds are still against it. NYT
Hillary Clinton lands a potential final blow
After Bernie Sanders racked up victories in eight of the last nine primaries, Clinton needed a big win in order to prevent a close contest. She got it, beating Sanders by over 15 percentage points. It’s the knockout victory she had been looking for. Clinton will likely now turn her attention – and speeches – toward the general election. Politico
The night’s biggest losers…
…were Ted Cruz and Sanders. Cruz never had much of a shot in New York after disparaging “New York values” in Iowa, but he finished with only 14% of the vote, placing third behind John Kasich and gaining zero delegates. Sanders had said he would pull off a miracle in New York, but it didn’t happen. Instead, New York looks like the end of his long-shot bid to beat Clinton. Washington Post
Up or Out
Reports say that a Toshiba committee will approve CEO Masashi Muromachi‘s resignation today. Fortune
PepsiCo has hired Jody Davids as CIO. CIO
Fortune Reads and Videos
Printer maker goes for $3.6 billion
Lexmark International will go private; China’s Apex Technology and investment firm PAG Asia Capital bought it. Fortune
If you’re a drone operator in London…
…then it’s time to land, because President Barack Obama is coming to town. London has banned drones from flying over the center of the city during Obama’s visit. Fortune
More reports of reliability problems with Tesla’s Model X
An article in Consumer Reports pushed the stock down. Investors may also be worried by Tesla’s proxy statement, issued last Friday, reporting that founder and CEO Elon Musk is getting closer to achieving goals that would entitle him to stock options valued at $1. 6 billion; if he sold the stock, the new shares could significantly dilute the value of existing shares. Fortune
Facebook considers allowing some users…
…to cash in on their activity on the social platform. Fortune
Quote of the Day
“I’m not worried the PC will shrink to a point where the scale won’t get large enough to fund either the factories or the other innovations…The restructuring actually makes us more profitable in the PC, thus allowing us to invest even more in those growth areas.” — Intel CEO CEO Brian Krzanich discussing Intel’s core business, chips for PCs, while describing changes the company will take to invest in new technologies. Fortune
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