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Airbnb Founders: Who Are They and How Much Are They Worth in 2024?

If you’re not familiar with the website Airbnb, it is a multi-billion dollar company that helps connect people looking to rent out their homes with people looking for a place to stay. Airbnb wasn’t always the behemoth that it is now, though. In fact, this now-famous global company had very humble beginnings and was started by two college friends in their very own apartment. 

Who are the founders of Airbnb?

Airbnb was founded in 2008 by Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky. Shortly afterward, they brought on Nathan Blecharczyk and launched what they called Air Bed & Breakfast. This company would later become the Airbnb that we know today. 

The story doesn’t stop there, though. Be sure to follow along to learn even more about the journey of these three self-starters and how they came to own one of the most recognizable and popular hospitality businesses in the world! 

When was Airbnb founded?

The founders of Airbnb originally got the idea for the company in late 2007. However, it didn’t really gain much traction until 2008, when Blecharczyk was added onto the team as the Chief Technology Officer. It was in 2008 that the website was officially launched. Shortly afterward, the founders had gotten their first bookings. 

The company slowly gained more and more attention as the founders raised funds in an attempt to scale their business. They eventually attracted the attention of Paul Graham, the owner of the famous startup incubator Y Combinator. Y Combinator funds, trains, and supports the members of promising tech startups in exchange for a share of the company’s business. With their help, Airbnb had over ten thousand users by early 2009. 

Who is CEO of Airbnb?

The current CEO of Airbnb is Brian Chesky, one of the original three founders. The other two founders, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk, are CPO and CSO, respectively. It’s very impressive that the three have remained so close together in business for so long! 

Brian Chesky

How did Joe Gebbia get the idea for Airbnb?

The idea for Airbnb came along kind of serendipitously. Founders Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky were sharing an apartment at the time and struggling to make rent for the month. There was a large design convention in town and all the local hotels had been booked up for quite some time. They knew that some people would need a place to stay, so they purchased some air mattresses for their living room. 

They got their first three guests that weekend, and were hoping that they could continue to use this business model on an even larger scale. They gave themselves the name “Air Bed & Breakfast” after the air mattress and their less formal BNB-style accommodations. 

Joe Gebbia

How did Airbnb get started?

After their first few successful bookings, the founders tried to scale their business model in order to increase profits and visibility. After a few failed attempts at getting funding from venture capitalists, they actually switched gears and began to self-fund in order to prove that they meant business.

Ahead of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Airbnb marketed aggressively in Denver in order to make the most out of the crowds coming in for the event. They had some success, but it unfortunately didn’t last very long. Some felt that it was an unsafe idea, others just didn’t take them seriously. 

To pull themselves out of a rut, the founders began selling gimmicky themed cereal boxes that parodied the candidates at the time, John McCain and Barack Obama. Surprisingly, this idea worked great and they were able to raise upwards of $30,000! Shortly after this, they secured funding from Y Combinator and were able to travel to New York City to do some market research. 

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NYC was their biggest market at the time and remains hugely popular today, but they found that some of the listings in the area looked a bit disappointing. The photos people had uploaded to their listings didn’t look so great, so Gebbia, Chesky, and Blecharczyk took to the streets to take the photos themselves. 

After securing funding and doing a lot of the heavy lifting themselves, the Airbnb founders finally started to see some payoff. The company grew astronomically in its early years and even won the App award at SXSW in 2011, the same year that it began aggressively growing its international market. 

Since then, the company has become hugely popular and now operates in dozens of countries across the world. Still curious about the meaning behind the company? Check out my [Airbnb Meaning Article] here!

How much are the founders of Airbnb worth?

According to Wikipedia, the founders of Airbnb are worth quite a bit for being part of such a relatively new company. They list that Brian Chesky has a net worth of $3.8 billion USD, and Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk are worth a whopping $4.2 billion USD each. 

Nathan Blecharczyk

How does Airbnb stack up against its competition?

Airbnb has a few major competitors in the vacation rental market, some of which have been around even longer than they have. The main competitors are HomeAway, VRBO, and FlipKey. While each of these services offers essentially the same thing (short-term rentals that can be easily booked and managed online), they do differ slightly in a few key ways. 

Airbnb is widely accepted as boasting the most diverse and wide selection of any of the other vacation rental websites out there. They aren’t as old as VRBO, which has been around since 1995 (!), but they seem to be more popular due to their appeal as a tech startup and their clean, easy to navigate website. 

As we mentioned, VRBO has the oldest online presence of any of these companies. In more recent years, they have been acquired by HomeAway. This means that the listings on both of the sites are the same things at the same price. It isn’t clear why they haven’t simply merged into one streamlined website, but I guess that isn’t for us to worry about! Either way, a lot of people use VRBO and HomeAway interchangeably. 

One notable way that VRBO differs from Airbnb is that they offer a military discount of up to 15% off, which is always nice. They also tend to rent out the entire home rather than one room (or couch) like Airbnbs can. 

Finally, we have FlipKey. They definitely have the fewest listings of all the sites we’ve mentioned, so if you’re looking to vacation in a less popular area then this probably isn’t where you’re going to find your perfect rental. Otherwise, they seem to offer similar rentals at competitive prices just like everyone else. 

How do you get started hosting on Airbnb?

It’s simple and easy to get started on Airbnb! Make sure you use [our coupon code] to sign up, and then invite your friends who aren’t on Airbnb yet! They can save up to $55 on their first stay, and you’ll earn up to a $30 credit for each one that signs up. 

Once you’ve created your account, make sure to get your ID verified so you can begin hosting. To do this, you’ll need something like a driver’s license and proof of address. Once you’re verified, get ready to upload your first listing with some stellar photos and a killer description.

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What are some other websites like Airbnb? 

There are several other sharing-economy-focused services on the market today. You’re probably familiar with several, including Uber, TaskRabbit, Rover, and more. A lot of these websites have to do with the vacation and hospitality industry as well. 

Airbnb is very similar to HomeAway, VRBO, and FlipKey. In fact, there are tons of home-sharing services out there and many hosts cross-list properties on multiple websites in order to increase their chances of getting booked. The companies have the same basic model as Airbnb but differ in their costs and rules, so be sure to check out each one individually before deciding where to list your space. 

What are the pros and cons of using Airbnb?

Although I personally believe that Airbnb is a great gig, there are some disadvantages that go along with that. First, Airbnb does take a cut of your earnings as a host. This is pretty standard across any service that facilitates bookings, and their fee is somewhat nominal at 3%. They charge guests the higher service fee of anywhere between 5 and 15% of the total cost of their stay. 

A pro of hosting on Airbnb is that you get full control of your new business. You can decide when you want to host and even who you want to host. You can use it as an opportunity to make some extra money on the side, or even turn it into your full-time business. You also get to meet fun new people and show them around your town!

Lots of guests prefer Airbnb over traditional hotels for the personal feel that they offer. Unlike a hotel where you sleep in a standard, blasé room and interact very little with your surroundings, Airbnbs are a dynamic and unique space that allow you to get to know your hosts and your vacation spot even better.

Ryan Drew- Contributor
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Ryan Drew- Contributor

I'm an Airbnb Superhost sharing my Airbnb journey and tips that I've learned along the way.

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