Its co-founders primarily own Airbnb: Brian Chesky, with 76,407,686 Class B shares, which gives him 29.1% of ownership; Nathan Blecharczyk, with 232,306 Class A and 64,646,713 Class B, which give him 25.3%; and Joe Gebbia, which has 5,113,865 Class A and 58,023,452 Class B, which give him 22.9% ownership.
In 2007, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia tried to make extra income to pay their rent.
Chesky and Gebbia, friends from design school, saw a big opportunity when back in 2007, a large international design conference was about to be hosted in San Francisco.
It wasn’t unusual to have all hotels sold out during these large conferences.
However, at that time, Chesky and Gebbia swiftly built a website called AirBedandBreakfast.com (their guests would sleep on air beds), and surprisingly rented it to three designers attending the conference.
As Chesky and Gebbia recalled, at the time, most people thought the idea was crazy as strangers would have never accepted to “stay in each other’s homes.”
And yet, that first weekend, something interesting happened.
As the three designers had rented the air beds at Chesky and Gebbia’s apartment, they realized the potential of offering an experience as a local to someone coming from out of town.
Indeed, that was one of the key elements that would make Airbnb different from traditional Hotels.
It wasn’t just a room but potentially a whole end-to-end experience that made guests feel like locals and hosts become the ambassadors of their local community while building their entrepreneurial journey.
That event made Chesky and Gebbia continue with this experiment. By 2008, software engineer Nathan Blecharczyk joined the two co-founders to focus on the UX of the platform, to solve what would become the central problem for Airbnb, that of “making strangers comfortable enough to stay in each other’s homes.”
Some of the elements that would make this possible, combined a platform with:
- Host and guest profiles.
- Integrated messaging.
- Two-way reviews.
- And secure payments.
Over the years, other key elements were added to the platform that helped gain further traction (like hiring professional freelance photographers to enrich the visual experience on the platform or adding experiences on top of the stay).
Each of those elements would help Airbnb achieve a larger and larger scale until the pandemic hit, and Airbnb had to figure out how to make its business model even more sustainable to survive.
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