Airbnb

YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION: TECH IN CUBA
April 2, 2016 11:30 am

President Obama’s visit to Cuba last week was one that opened many doors, not only politically but business-wise. While the country still seems to be stuck in a state of suspended animation and it is slowly opening up to capitalist ideas that will mean great changes.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Xavier? Dude, how is this important? Well let me tell you how. The fact that Cuba is a developed country that is still, to us capitalist pigs, undeveloped makes it a fertile ground for the businesses.

On March 20th, the treasury department gave AirBnB the OK to expand its Cuba listings. This is one of the many moves that show just how much and how fast Cuba is becoming more open to businesses. On the same day, PayPal announced that Xoom, a new global money transfer service, would be coming to Cuba by the end of this year.

PayPal is a giant when it comes to the tech world, as well as the world in general. These moves by big companies in Cuba signal an impending tech boom, one that seems inevitable at the moment. This rise of Cuba to a tech giant mirrors the rise that Japan had after World War II, when after decades of
isolation, they opened trading with America and started making products that were considered western; Cars, TVs, etc. Not only did they start producing these things at a faster rate, but they also did them better and for cheaper.

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Now, am I saying that Cuba will become the next Japan? Perhaps, Cuba is still a country that can be seen as lacking in a lot of things… but so was Japan. Necessity is the mother of invention, and Cuba for sure still needs a lot. That being said, only 5% of Cuba’s population has internet access, while a majority of them are still stealing it from the blackmarket, according to Uncubed. Not only that, but advertising is still a big issue; it is almost unheard of to advertise there. If you were to describe the American way of watching television where every 10 minutes or so you are interrupted for commercials, most Cubans would probably laugh at you. But I agree with them, commercials suck.

Cuba is still an undecipherable puzzle, but something tells me it won’t be like that for long, so for all of you techies out there that are experiencing the hostile American market, consider Cuba, a country that has been untainted by capitalism. Until now!

Little May Keeps it Real
July 28, 2015 10:00 am

As I walk into an artsy Airbnb loft located in East Williamsburg, I was greeted with three friendly hip Australian girls. The place was decorated with all sorts of props from trippy rainbow paintings to slightly terrifying mannequins. Hannah and Annie had just come back from a bikram yoga class while Liz struck some chords on her acoustic guitar and hummed some melodic tunes. It was the first time I’ve had an opportunity to sit down with musicians in such an intimate setting without having to worry about shouting over the loud music at a bar, or having the pressure to finish the interview in time before their set. I was more than thrilled to have a chat with these girls and know more about them beyond their music.

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Seeing Little May play at Rough Trade during Northside Festival for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised with their performance. Their dreamy sounds and great harmony captivated the audience and had their eyes glued on the girls the whole time. “We always struggle putting down a specific genre, but I guess maybe we’re just…honest?” A lot of their songs seem to expose their emotional journey through life with genuine lyrics that recognize sentimentality. It seems as though their lyrics come organically, and they use it as a platform to express their feelings rather than forcefully getting some words out on paper. “When you’re going through something, it’s really hard to figure out what you’re feeling and sometimes thats a good thing because you can vent in that way, but it’s really great to reflect after certain situations have passed and get inspiration from those situations as well.”

During their set Hannah mentioned that one of the songs was about a boy that she liked who ended up kissing somebody else. “Liz and I made that song after we were in a single situation so we wrote a verse each. I guess it’s tongue-in-cheek now but we look back at it and we can joke about it. I think that happens when you’re going through relationships and coming out of them, somebody liking someone else,” Hannah says in a reminiscing tone. Perhaps Hannah also gets inspiration from the popular love guru popstar. “If I’m in a bad mood I like to listen to Taylor Swift, but I’m not embarrassed by it. I just save it for those special occasions.”

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These girls offer some words of wisdom to girls who go through the same relationship struggles – “Just stick it out I guess. Stick it out in life. The thing is, it always get’s better if you just give it a little bit of time. Things always seem worse than they are, so be brave.”

Not only did I pick up on their excellent lyrical content, but I realized that they also have a great sense of fashion. “I think the black pants are any musicians staple and I guess with traveling, being on the road for quite a while, you kind of have to be frugal of what you’re packing so you tend to wear similar things on stage. I think if we had more options that would be great, but we just try to wear something that we’re comfortable in.” Speaking of comfortable, Liz learned that lesson the hard way by experiencing a slight wardrobe malfunction on stage. “There was a show when my top was to the side of my bra. Hannah pointed it out on stage and she was like “Liz..” and I was like oh shit!”

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During their short stay in New York City, they were fortunate enough to have some time off to explore around the city. “Mark, Ken and I went to a Mets game yesterday which was super fun and bought a pretzel and Bud Light. I really wanted to get a hotdog but that’s kind of pushing it” Hannah said excitedly. Liz seemed to enjoy strolling around Brooklyn, doing some shopping. “I was amazed by everything in Williamsburg, on Driggs Avenue. I found some jewelry at a handmade jewelry shop, and also bought some old records.” While Hannah and Liz were focused on certain duties, Annie just wanted to wander around. “I kind of just wandered around and ate vegan food. I’m a vegetarian but out of the past two weeks we’ve been driving around and I’ve been eating a lot of fries and stuff. You know, just wandering around and drinking coffee and just hanging out really.”

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We go off on a tangent and start talking about a food, which is a topic everyone gets excited about. I ask if they’ve had the full New York experience by going out and eating the staple NYC food. “All the typical New York things like bagels and big pizza slices and hotdogs and stuff – You remind yourself, “I gotta eat bagels!” but you can’t eat too many bagels you know?” Annie mentions a Japanese restaurant called Zenkichi in Williamsburg. “I think we’re going there for dinner tonight, but I’m not sure where we’re going.” Hannah is feeling for Mexican food, but pouts because “it’s a group decision.” “There’s this Mexican place when we were staying in Brooklyn not long ago and it had the best quesadilla I’ve ever had, so I’m going to miss that. I wish that we had time to go back.”

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