WE TALK TO AIRBNB COFOUNDER JOE GEBBIA ABOUT HIS COMPANY’S SHIFT TO SOCIAL, AND A NEAT BIT OF CODING MAGIC THAT’S MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK.
It’s good to be Joe Gebbia these days: A mere five years ago, his friend from RISD, Brian Chesky, arrived on his doorstep to rent a room in his loft. That same weekend, a flood of fellow designers were rushing to find hotels for an upcoming design conference. There weren’t any hotels left. Chesky didn’t have a job. So the two of them decided to put a handful of their itinerant peers up for the weekend, and made a quick $1,000. Airbnb was born. Today, the company is valued at around $2 billion, and it’s rumored be raising another $100 million in venture capital, in addition to the $120 million it has already gathered. It’s still seeing hockey-stick growth, and they’re rapidly expanding overseas. But anything that grows so fast can disappear almost as quickly--and that’s precisely why Airbnb has been aggressive in transforming their site into a social experience rather than a search portal. Gebbia, who was recently a judge in our Innovation By Design Awards, recently stopped by Fast Company to chat about how that transformation first occurred.
FROM A STAR TO A HEART