Chesky in December 2011
|Born||Brian Joseph Chesky
August 29, 1981
Niskayuna, New York, U.S.
|Residence||San Francisco, California, U.S.|
|Alma mater||Rhode Island School of Design (Bachelor's degree)|
|Occupation||CEO and Co-founder of Airbnb|
|Net worth||US $1.5 billion (April 2014)|
While at RISD, where Chesky earned a B.F.A in Industrial Design, he and his two friends ran the NADS Hockey Team. They were interested in turning the team into a brand as it was on the verge of cancellation. Through re-branding, the team came up with the notorious RISD mascot, Scrotie as the logo for the NADS Hockey Team. Chesky says that it "was [his] greatest creation yet." He also credits the Scrotie project as one of his forays into entrepreneurship.
Chesky and Joe Gebbia became roommates in 2008 when they both moved to San Francisco. While both unemployed and in need for money, there was an Industrial Design conference coming up, held by the Industrial Design Society of America, and many hotels were overbooked. The pair believed they could make some money by renting their place out. They purchased three airbeds and marketed this idea by creating a website called "Air Bed and Breakfast." This was the foundation of Airbnb. Harvard graduate and technical architect Nathan Blecharczyk became the third co-founder on February 2008.
In 2008 when Airbnb launched it only had two customers and one of those was Chesky. The company had a difficult time starting up because the idea behind the company was not really appealing. In order to fund this declining company, they created “Obama O’s” and “Cap’n McCains” based on Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain. Chesky describes this as his low point. Y Combinator saw these boxes and were impressed, so they accepted Airbnb into its seed funding program. After two startups, the company finally picked up and started to become the company that it is today. At SXSW 2013 Chesky said that his company has grown a lot since each SXSW. Two years ago at SXSW there were 1,000 people in Austin, Texas using Airbnb and for the 2013 SXSW 8,000 people were using Airbnb. On average, each day there are about 50,000 to 60,000 people using Airbnb. The company was incubated at Y Combinator. In its first year the company began internationalizing and opened several new offices in Europe.
Chesky apologized for his handling of "EJ," a San Francisco resident whose Airbnb rental was left in poor condition by a tenant she met on Airbnb. EJ waited fourteen hours to get her call to the company's "urgent" phone line returned, and allegedly received a return courtesy call only after a friend at Airbnb intervened. After EJ blogged about the incident, it emerged that other Airbnb clients had also had their rentals pillaged. Chesky later recanted his apology, saying "I wrote a blog post trying to explain the situation, but it didn't reflect my true feelings."
Airbnb employees were caught disguising themselves as ordinary Craigslist users, then email people listing their vacation apartments on Craigslist and urge them to list on Airbnb instead. News website Gawker surmised that the scam might have violated the federal CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Chesky later blamed the incident on rogue contractors who had been hired to sell person to person.
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