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Airbnb appoints Ebay’s Chesnut as new GC as tech firms face growing legal challenges

Online accommodation finder Airbnb has appointed eBay’s vice president and deputy general counsel (GC) Rob Chesnut as its new GC following the promotion of Belinda Johnson to chief business affairs and legal officer.

The appointment demonstrates the important part legal representation plays in tech start-ups such as Airbnb which has had to contend with growing legal threats from all corners including governments, guests and hosts.

The company, which enables travellers to rent accommodation from local hosts all over the world, has faced challenges over taxes paid by its users, and has been criticised for setting up offices in various tax havens.

Chesnut said: ‘Whenever you’ve got a business model that breaks new ground and challenges the status quo, it’s going to run up against laws that were passed long before the business model was ever conceived.’

He brings a wealth of experience to the role, having spent a decade serving as eBay’s senior vice president, as well as holding a position on fellow tech start-up Uber’s safety advisory board. Chesnut currently also holds the role of GC and senior vice president at Chegg, which is a company specialising in online textbook rentals, homework help, online tutoring, scholarships and internship matching.

His appointment as GC was replicated by Uber, which recently appointed Matt Wilson as its first domestic UK lawyer in 2015. Wilson has dealt with a number of competition related matters since his arrival, including defeating a high court challenge from Transport for London over the legality of its app in the city.