Yesterday I got an email from airbnb.com, under the heading "We're updating our Terms of Service". It starts this way:
It goes on to explain:
Airbnb is only as strong as its community. We are so grateful to see our community strengthen as we grow. Thank you for your time!
I'm used to long click-through agreements that no one has the time or interest to read, but this seems to be some kind of a record.
If I were to read this material out loud, at a rate of 150 wpm, it would take 55081/150 = 367.2 minutes, or about six hours and seven minutes. With silent reading at 400 wpm, it would be a mere two hours and seventeen minutes. "Thank you for your time" indeed.
Is it actually legal to impose a semi-impenetrable 55,000-word contract on someone, simply by asking them to click on a link claiming to have read and accepted something they could not possibly have read and understood?
Update — In the comments, Patrick Gribben points us to Austin Carr, "Inside Airbnb's Grand Hotel Plans", Fast Company, April 2014:
When I first heard of "the sheet," I assumed it was bogus. Word was that Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky had boiled down his strategic road map–all of Airbnb's secret plans for 2014–onto a single piece of paper.
Yet on an early evening in late January, I am sitting in a conference room at Airbnb's San Francisco headquarters across from Chesky and Chip Conley, Airbnb's recently appointed head of global hospitality, and Chesky is wondering aloud whether to show me the fabled document. Even as he's talking about it, I am still unsure whether I'm being punked.
After a second of deliberation, Chesky pulls the trigger: He sends an employee to retrieve the sheet. He then slides it in front of me, as Conley, only half-joking, declares, "The infamous paper to take over the world!"
The 8.5-by-11-inch typewritten sheet highlights the company's four major goals for 2014, each with specific objectives, product features, target launch dates, and year-end milestones. I can't reveal them all here–Chesky will debut new initiatives sometime this summer. But the document is a remarkable piece of work, an example of bold corporate strategy boiled down to its essence. Sixty people have been working for five months to distill many ideas to this core.
So for the CEO, sixty people work five months to distill their world-domination plans into one "8.5-by-11 typewritten sheet", while the rest of us are asked to read and agree to 55,000 words (= several hundred "typewritten" pages) in order to allow ourselves to be dominated?