The Airbnb Story

The Airbnb Story

How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted An Industry, Made Billions, and Created Plenty of Controversy

Book - 2017
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"The story of the creation and growth of Airbnb, the online lodging platform that has become, in under a decade, the largest provider of accommodations in the world. At first just the wacky idea of cofounders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb has disrupted the $500 billion hotel industry, and its $30 billion valuation is now larger than that of Hilton and close to that of Marriott. Airbnb is beloved by the millions of members and the travelers they shelter every night. Fortune editor Leigh Gallagher explores the success of Airbnb along with the more controversial side of its story. Regulators want to curb its rapid expansion; hotel industry leaders wrestle with the disruption it has caused them; and residents and customers alike struggle with the unintended consequences of opening up private homes for public consumption. The first in-depth study of Airbnb's leader, Brian Chesky, the quirky and curious young CEO, as he steers the company into new markets and increasingly uncharted waters"--Provided by publisher.
"Airbnb is an online marketplace and hospitality service, enabling people to list or rent short-term lodging including vacation rentals, apartment rentals, homestays, hostel beds, or hotel rooms. The company does not own any lodging; it is merely a broker and receives service fees from both guests and hosts. It has over three million lodging listings in 65,000 cities and 191 countries, and the cost of lodging is set by the host. Like all hospitality services, Airbnb is a form of collaborative consumption and sharing"--From website.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017
Branch Call Number: 647.940285 G162g
Characteristics: xx, 236 p. ; 24 cm


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Apr 24, 2017

This book was so poorly written that I could tell it would be hard to read right from page 1. I skimmed the first few chapters and then gave up - it was that badly written!

Mar 05, 2017

This is a quick and easy read, and for those who aren't intimately familiar with the company, gives a reasonably thorough overview of the now-legendary beginnings through to the present situation and expansion.

Full disclosure: I worked for Airbnb as a remote employee based in Portland for almost 4 years from 2012-2016, so the only information in the book new to me was about things that had happened from the summer of 2016 onwards.

When I tweeted to the author after finishing it, I noted that it was very Founder- and SF-heavy. She replied that with a short deadline, she'd needed to focus quite specifically, but she'd wanted to come up to Portland and write more about the different branches, offices, etc. She finished the tweet with a hashtag of 'sequel.' To that I replied that given how many roles I'd had, I may very well write an insider's view of the company, much more in the vein of Dan Lyons' "Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble."

I skimmed much of the Learning to Lead chapter about Chesky, just because I've heard it all before, multiple times. For me as a former Aircorps employee, the only new parts in the book were finding out about something called the Airbnb Friendly Buildings Program. I have no idea if that is successful and whether or not it will ever move beyond the pilot phase. The other was reading about a Trust & Safety case that happened last summer that was tragicomic in mishandling. I can only assume that somehow the case didn't actually get to T&S in a timely manner since the colleagues I worked with wouldn't have sent the same non-answer multiple times to this beleaguered host.

In short, if you don't know much about Airbnb, who the founders are and their roles as they've changed, this book will fill you in. It covers the highs and lows, the missteps and where they want to go with what they see as Airbnb 2.0 with the focus on Experiences. What it doesn't cover is the experiences of any employees that are anything less than at the executive level, and I found that sorely lacking as customer support is really the lifeblood of the company. Yes, there are loads of engineers and they're very important too, but nobody calls and talks to an engineer. To me the title of this book should instead be "The Founders of Airbnb," since that's truly the focus.

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