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Tech investors are offering their homes to California wildfire victims



Ryan Sarver Redpoint Ventures
Ventures’ Ryan Sarver


  • The Northern California Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire near
    Malibu have collectively claimed the lives of at least 50 people
    as of Wednesday, and destroyed over 8,000 homes. 
  • Some prominent investors, like Redpoint Ventures’ Ryan
    Sarver and ENIAC Ventures’ Nihal Mehta, have responded by
    offering up their Northern California homes to those displaced
    by the fires. 
  • Airbnb has been able to facilitate the offering up of
    homes, as well, with over 2,000 hosts offering shelter across
    California through the company’s Open Homes
  • Other tech companies including Facebook, Google, Apple
    are doing their part to help as well. 

California is on fire. 

The Northern California Camp Fire has killed at least 48 people
and destroyed more than 7,600 homes and 260 businesses as of
Wednesday morning, making it the deadliest and most destructive
fire in state history. The Woolsey Fire near Malibu,
California has claimed two lives, forced 275,000 people to
evacuate, and destroyed the homes of celebrities
including Gerard Butler, Miley Cyrus,
and Neil Young. 

Read more:

The death toll from California’s fires has risen to 50, with
thousands of homes destroyed in Malibu and Northern

With so much destruction, so close to home — the Camp Fire burns
around 150 miles from San Francisco, filling the city with smoke
— the tech community has responded. Some have even offered up
their homes over Twitter. 

Venture capitalists, like Redpoint Ventures’ Ryan Sarver
(formerly Director of Platform at Twitter) and ENIAC
Ventures’ Nihal Mehta, have offered homes that they own in
the area to those displaced by the fire. 

Airbnb has opened up doors at scale

Airbnb has been able to do something similar at a much larger

The company’s Open
Homes Program
, which was created back in 2012 to assist with
relief from Hurricane Sandy, allows hosts to offer up their homes
to those displaced by the fires.

Airbnb told Business Insider that so far over 2,000 hosts
on its platform have offered their homes to evacuees of the Camp
Fire and Woolsey’s Fires. To date, nearly 1,000 evacuees and
relief workers have been housed. 

Kellie Bentz, Airbnb’s Head of Global Disaster Response
and Relief, told us over the phone on Wednesday: “
always terrible, but also good for us when it’s close to home
because it allows us to get a lot closer to the situation. In
this case, we’ve been able to do that pretty quickly.”

This week, the company improved its mobile sign up process for
evacuees and is planning on opening up a hotline by Thursday for
those in need of shelter. 

We’re just trying to make it as easy as possible to book,”
Bentz explained. 

Bentz said she helped one woman book a home on Tuesday who
needed to flee her Southern California home with her friend and
three dogs. 

“They were literally on the side of the road,” Benz
explains. “The hard part about wildfires is, we call them ‘no
notice events.’ Typically, it’s so fast moving. It’s hard to be
as prepared as a hurricane where at least you have a few hours to
pack up. With [the wildfires], people literally just got what
they could and ran out.” 

Facebook, Google, Apple have also responded

Facebook is helping as well.

The Menlo Park-based company committed to matching up to $500,000
in donations made on Facebook to American Red Cross’ California
wildfire relief efforts. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed with
Business Insider that the match was met as of Tuesday, and in
total, including the company’s matching contribution, the
Facebook community has raised more than $1.7 million for the
American Red Cross. 

Also, through Facebook Fundraisers — which the company announced
on Wednesday had
helped raise over $1 billion
— users have been able to set up
campaigns to help those who have lost their homes and valuables.

One user, whose brother and 97-year-old grandma both lost their
homes in Paradise, California, has helped her family raise over
over Facebook. Another, who lives in Southern
California, has helped raise over
to provide extra supplies, like water bottles and
snacks, for firefighters and victims. 

The Google-owned mapping service Waze, is doing its part in
helping where it can. Waze tweeted last week that it is working
“around-the-clock” to make sure maps were updated with road
closures, as well as shelter information. 

Apple has also announced, via a tweet from CEO Tim Cook, that it
would be donating to fire relief efforts. 


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