This story includes a correction.
Original post, Thursday, Oct. 22: Alongside its $8 million campaign to defeat San Francisco Proposition F, a measure that would impose new restrictions on short-term rentals in the city, Airbnb thought it would gently call voters' attention to the good things it does for the city.
The result was a series of campaign ads on billboards and Muni bus shelters throughout the city. The ads point out the company was responsible for $12 million in hotel taxes over the past year. A typical message:
Dear Public Libary System,
We hope you use the $12 million in hotel taxes to keep the library open later.
As SFWeekly reports, that particular message drew a riposte from a San Francisco State professor who ran some numbers and came up with a guess that maybe Airbnb's $12 million could keep libraries open a couple minutes later every day.
The Airbnb ads were so tone deaf, in fact, as to inspire curiosity about whether they were a hoax. Really -- would a company touting a $25 billion valuation launch a campaign reminding the locals how grateful they should be?