Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky Was Doubted By His Mom, Now He’s Worth Billions


Many people once scoffed at the idea that people would rent out their homes to strangers, including Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky’s own mother.

This is according to Chesky, who told the story at a recent Stanford Graduate School of Business event. As he recounted, he was an industrial designer in his twenties, struggling to pay his rent. He moved to San Francisco to live with his college friend Joe Gebbia, and they realized they had a business idea after renting their house and its three air mattresses at a design conference.

“At that point, my mom said, ‘So I guess you don’t have that job with health insurance anymore. ‘” Chesky said. “And I said, ‘No, Mom, I’m an entrepreneur.’ And she said, ‘No, you’re unemployed.'”

Joined by a third co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk, the trio officially launched their website in 2008. Their timing wasn’t ideal: the co-founders spent much of the Great Recession visiting New York hosts to photograph rentals for their website and better understand the guest. experience, Chesky told LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman “Ladder Masterspodcast in 2017.

Business started to take off in April 2009, after the company landed a $585,000 investment of Sequoia Capital. In February 2011, Airbnb announced that customers had booked a million nights in its rentals.

The company was would be valued at $31 billion in 2017, before returning to the drawing board in March 2020. Months before Airbnb’s planned IPO, business fell 80% in eight weeks during the Covid-19 shutdowns, Chesky told reporters. Stanford students.

“When you’re our size…it’s like being an 18-wheeler going 80 mph and then you slam on the brakes,” he said. “Nothing good is happening. Within weeks, journalists were predicting, ‘Is this the end of Airbnb?'”

To combat a company-wide meltdown, Airbnb’s management team made layoffs, took personal pay cuts and slashed the marketing budget from “$1 billion to…zero.” “, said Chesky. Divisions such as design, finance and marketing have been condensed into a single department, encouraging collaboration across teams, he added.

The company made a 40% profit in 2022, Chesky said. Today, Airbnb’s market cap is $75.49 billion and Chesky’s net worth is $75.49 billion. $9.3 billionaccording to Forbes.

“I never focused on trying to make a lot of money,” Chesky said. “I just focused on being as efficient as possible. [and] obsessed with experience.”

Looking back, Chesky said her mother’s discomfort may have been justified. Both of his parents were social workers, and his mother wanted him to pursue a job that “makes you a lot of money,” he said.

“When you start [a company]it’s mostly in your head,” Chesky added with a laugh.

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