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The analysis seemed to be from 2009, perhaps things are much different now. It took years of perseverance, hard work and providing a useful service. Instead Air Bnb seems to get a pass because they are a YC company.
But in the grand scheme of things, when you are a tiny start up struggling to survive, this is a relatively benign grass roots attempt at marketing which the Air BNB guys even probably regret doing.Sometimes your business is in a position to strut your stuff, because you're the lion in the room.Other times you have to sneak around or be deceptive.Then, pound the pavement in other high-influence cities, work to get inches in the media, do biz-dev deals with travel/vacation sites, get yourself interviewed on local radio and tv, find every possible way to insert Air BNB into the news stories of the day And frankly, with the real estate crash, there were a lot of possible ways to insert themselves into the news. That said, my big question continues to be 'did they disclose this behavior to their investors'. I was originally a developer but was promoted to be the technical liason in sales. We went back and forth between government and enterprise sales while I was there.The company is still around but is doing something completely different now.
These were extremely well-targeted communications likely sent out one-by-one by humans who had done some research.