The coming Labor Day weekend may find you jetting off to an island paradise, hitting the highway for a road trip, or seated in a comfortable yet chic chair, trying to make some readerly headway with Vogue’s 916-page September issue (worth the $5.99 cover price for Amaranth Ehrenhalt‘s charming Giacometti tale alone!). If you’re still stuck in binary hotel-or-a-friend’s-place travel mode, consider upgrading with an alternative: Airbnb (née AirBedAndBreakfast.com). The San Francisco-based startup, which has raised $120 million in funding, recently reached 10 million nights booked and has amassed a massive, fun-to-browse menu of unique spaces worldwide. Joe Gebbia is the graphic and product design mind behind the company, which he co-founded in 2007 (with Brian Chesky and Nathan Blecharczyk). The RISD alum took time away from his holiday weekend preparations to answer our seven questions.
Give us your elevator pitch: What’s Airbnb?
Airbnb is a trusted online marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world. From a private room to a private island, we offer an entertaining and personal way for travelers to unlock local experiences and see their surroundings through the eyes of a local.
What led you and your co-founders to create the company?
In October 2007 the rent increased on our San Francisco apartment. The timing couldn’t have been worse—my roommate, Brian, and I had recently left our jobs to become entrepreneurs. We knew that a prominent design conference was coming to town, and that all the nearby hotel rooms were booked solid. We decided to rent airbeds in our apartment to designers attending the conference, and provide them with a unique and quintessentially local experience. As it turned out, a lot of people were looking for this type of accommodation, so we brought on Nate to be our third co-founder and we started to expand. In 2007 we had two airbeds, and three employees. Now, just four years later, we have over 200,000 listings in over 26,000 cities in 192 countries and 10 offices in 9 countries.