Ashton Kutcher doubles down on Airbnb regulations with Thiel

Ashton Kutcher at 2011 TechCrunch event in NYC / TechCrunch, via Wikipedia page and Creative Commons

By Kyle O'Brien

Ashton Kutcher is making his considerably more weighty name heard about relaxing regulations on Airbnb, and now he has PayPal co-founder, and recent political lightning rod Peter Thiel backing him up in his fight against New York home share regulations.

A bill was passed by the New York State Legislature that would find New York City residents up to $7,500 for renting out their homes and apartments on Airbnb. Kutcher, Thiel, Facebook’s Marc Andreessen and other tech movers and shakers recently sent a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, petitioning him to veto the bill.

The Wall Street Journal printed a portion, which reads:

“As investors and industry leaders, we believe in the good that Airbnb and home sharing have done for residents of New York,” the letter states. “We implore you to reaffirm your commitment to fostering technology and innovation.”

Short-term rentals – those people renting their homes for less than 30 days – have been illegal in NYC since 2010, but laws were not strictly enforced. The new bill would enforce those laws with fines, which Kutcher and company deem unfair to free trade.

The comedic actor is turning venture capitalist, as is evidenced by his early investments in Airbnb and his VC firm, Sound Ventures. That he is outspoken about regulations for the home sharing service is fairly standard, but bringing along Thiel, the Republican delegate and outspoken supporter of Donald Trump, has raised some eyebrows. Thiel remains on the board at Facebook, his right leanings clashing with some of those higher up. And his very public disputes with Gawker Media helped bankrupt the company, thanks to his helping to fund Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against the site. But on the Airbnb front, he is united with Kutcher and others.

This is not the first time Kutcher has defended Airbnb in public. In Chicago, back in June, he railed against the city’s regulation attempts, calling Airbnb an “authentic experience” over hotels. Kutcher even wrote a plea on his Facebook page.

"As an entrepreneur, I believe in the power of technology to transform lives and solve problems in our communities, and that's happening everyday in Chicago thanks to Airbnb."

Whether or not he, Thiel and the rest will be successful, and how strongly the new New York regulations are enforced, is still up in the air, and trying to have laws overturned that have already been voted in may prove more than difficult, even from these high-profile capitalists.

As Linda Rosenthal, New York City assemblywoman told The Wall Street Journal, "A letter from Ashton Kutcher probably won’t make a scintilla of difference.”

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