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As Listing Growth Slows, Airbnb Faces New Test

Photo: Illustration by Scotty Reifsnyder

At a gathering of Airbnb hosts two weeks ago, CEO Brian Chesky fielded a question he gets frequently: Why is the company allowing professional real estate investors and commercial property managers to list on the site? In response, he said the company needed to be “more inclusive of who belongs on Airbnb,” but emphasized the company wasn’t “leaving our roots.”

That will continue to be a fine line for Mr. Chesky to try to walk, even as Airbnb has grown into a travel-industry heavyweight and prepares for an IPO, likely in 2019. Growth of listings is slowing in some of Airbnb’s biggest cities, pushing the company to look for revenue from traditional hospitality ventures. It’s an effort that sometimes collides with the company’s upstart image.

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