Airbnb does not settle for just putting guests in contact with hosts; it dreams of a world where anyone can belong anywhere. A world without strangers, now that’s a promising purpose. A little bit of utopia can’t do any harm.
When Brian Chesky first met venture capitalists in the summer of 2008, none believed for an instant in his project. Chesky recalls, “People did not think strangers would stay with other strangers. They thought it was crazy.” One of the investors even went as far as saying, “Brian, I hope that’s not the only idea you’re working on.”1 These doubts did not stop Airbnb from launching the first peer-to-peer accommodation platform and becoming the huge success we know today. To summarize Chesky, this was accomplished by “bringing the world back to the place where it feels like a village again.”2
Since 2008, 150 million travelers have stayed in three million different hosts’ homes in nearly 200 countries. The company is now present in 34,000 cities.
It took Chesky great resilience to achieve this. He needed to overcome the tempestuous opposition of numerous towns, involving legal battles against all sorts of prohibition. And it looks as if this will be a never-ending struggle. Following a series of incidents, he had to completely change his strategy in just a few days and, contrary to what he said previously, he declared himself partially responsible for what happens in hosts’ homes. Finally, after ...