Airbnb founders Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky
What started as a friendship between the head of the hockey team and the leader of the men's basketball team at the Rhode Island School of Design in the early 2000s led to the creation of a billion-dollar company that turned the hospitality industry on its ear.
After graduating and going their separate ways, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and Chief Product Officer Joe Gebbia reconnected in 2007 and became roommates in the Bay Area with the sole purpose of starting a company. The third co-founder, Nathan Blecharczyk, entered the scene closer to the company’s 2008 founding. The three co-founders are now worth $3.8B apiece.
The idea that sparked the creation of Airbnb was one most millennials can relate to: The two could not afford to pay their rent one month after the landlord boosted it by 20%. In an effort to come up with the money, they decided to find someone to rent their home for the night. The timing was perfect as there was a San Francisco designers conference being held at the time and most of the surrounding hotels were booked.
“By the end of the night, we came up with the name Airbed & Breakfast,” Gebbia wrote to Fast Company. “We created a simple site and promoted it by emailing a few top design blogs ... what started as a weekend experiment — a small bet to save our apartment — has become a global movement.”
Airbnb was officially founded in 2008 and less than a decade later the company has accumulated more than 3 million Airbnb listings in more than 190 countries worldwide. A forerunner in the sharing economy, Airbnb closed a Series F round of funding for $448M in March, bringing its total funding to $1B and pushing its valuation to $31B. The company broke even and became profitable at the close of 2016. — Champaign Williams
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