Accessible Accommodation

I was planning a trip today, and I used the wheelchair accessibility filter on AirBnB, I got this popup.

This text and the call to action “I understand” sounded to me like “we know your anxiety when you book something, but we are not responsible for it”.

Probably a big problem happened with a wheelchair user, or AirBnB customer service reported wheelchair users are making many complaints, which led product to do this.

Finding wheelchair accessible accommodation is a big pain, even with hotels. When I was working for Booking, I worked on a project to define the features of wheelchair accessible accommodations. Unfortunately this project never got to the company priorities because of the very small niche it targets*, and the logistics needed to communicate and serve what’s accessible.

I hope AirBnB dedicate more resources to make hosts clarify their house accessibility options. AirBnB positions itself as an inclusive community, and they can do better.

* 0.40% of Europeans use wheelchairs, out of those how many travel?

Chaos Monkeys

Few weeks ago I finished Chaos Monkeys. It is the story of a physicist turned Goldman Sachs analyst, who quit wall street to join a Silicon Valley startup, then went to found his own startup, got into YC, got sued by his previous employer, sold the company to twitter, and landed as one of Facebook’s early Ads product managers, before leaving Facebook and becoming a twitter advisor. As crazy as it sounds, it is a real story with real names and real companies.

As an outsider the valley, and so as most of people, it takes long time to create a mental image of what happens there.

What we see in tech media is full of noise, and it takes time to be able to read between the lines. Personally for me this came through a combination of heavy twitter usage, podcasts, medium, and different media outlets consumption. That’s why when I read this book, I felt like it is a wrap up to everything in a single man’s story.

Here is a quote from the book, about silicon valley rules

Investors are people with more money than time.

Employees are people with more time than money.

Entrepreneurs are simply the seductive go-betweens.

Startups are business experiments performed with other people’s money.

Marketing is like sex: only losers pay for it.

Company culture is what goes without saying.

There are no real rules, only laws.

Success forgives all sins.

People who leak to you, leak about you.

Meritocracy is the propaganda we use to bless the charade.

Greed and vanity are the twin engines of bourgeois society.

Most managers are incompetent and maintain their jobs via inertia and politics.

Lawsuits are merely expensive feints in a well-scripted conflict narrative between corporate entities.

Capitalism is an amoral farce in which every player – investor, employee, entrepreneur, consumer – is complicit.

If you want to understand these lines in detail, read the book.


Since I moved to Berlin, I feel like I am on the most wanted list for Christian evangelists.

Every time they see me, they stop me to give me a brochure. It started to extend further than those in subway stations. Sometimes I get stopped by random people on the street, I think they need help go somewhere to find them giving me one of the brochures. Today a lady stopped me, opened her wallet, and kept searching until she found a brochure to give me.

I am not annoyed by them. They are nice people. It is just an observation.


I was talking to a friend yesterday and telling her why I love Berlin. I found myself spontaneously saying: it is organized so that it is not annoying, and it is chaotic so that it is not boring.

This says it all.

The train blockchain

As summer comes, error rates go up, soldouts are more, and provider outages become a norm in a travel company like ours.

I was thinking what would solve the problem of providers being down?

I think the root cause is the centralization of the system. GoEuro, and whomever wants to allow users to search and book tickets have to connect to the rail/bus company’s system. If this system is down, all the partners are also down*.

On the other side, train companies are public companies, their sales is well known – most of the time – and even if the numbers are not public, through the APIs/scraping and if you have the right tracking, you can know when are they going to be soldout, or how many tickets they sell. The worst case you will get a fairly close, yet inaccurate estimation of these numbers.

This makes me think the solution to all of this is a decentralized train availability blockchain. A public ledger of who is on each train, where user identity is anonymous/hashed and can only be unhashed with their private key (for when the conductors are checking them on the train). Miners who verify the transactions are rewarded in ticketcoins, which they can use to hop on trains or sell them to other users.

This same blockchain can have different coin types for different providers, for example a DuetscheBahnCoin for Deutsche Bahn, a FlixBusCoin for FlixBus**.

The beauty of this – although I am not sure about its feasibility – is it is decentralized. You no longer have  provider bottleneck suffocating everyone from booking their tickets, it also offloads big part of the effort from the provider, since the computing, storage, and technical effort is mostly offloaded to the public.

* Companies can still cache and show results, but users would still be unable to book.

** This will be a bigger challenge with private companies since they don’t want to reveal their capacity and sales.