Brian Chesky is the chief executive of Airbnb, a marketplace where people with spare rooms to rent meet travelers looking for a cheap place to stay. Chesky started Airbnb in 2007, running the business from a three-bedroom apartment in San Francisco.
“Airbnb” is an insidery name: Air, as in air guitar where you pretend to play an instrument you don’t have in your hands. BNB as in bed and breakfast, a homey hotel run by the owners of a cozy home.
Chesky and co-founder Joe Gebbia started Airbnb when they were unable to meet their San Francisco rent payments. They began renting out a room by the night for travelers attending a San Francisco design conference. They collected $1,000 the first week.
Thinking entrepreneurishly, the two decided the real money wouldn’t be in renting one room out, but in operating a site that let everyone else do so. They got $20,000 in seed funding from incubator Y Combinator, and brought an engineer on board to build out Airbnb.com as a portal for short-stay rentals. San Francisco alone has more than 600 listings today.
As the apartment turned into an office, Chesky was faced with a choice: Turn his bedroom into a workplace, or go find real office space. The solution? Chesky has pledged to spend the rest of the year (think: taxes) sleeping in Airbnb customers’ rental spaces. In a blog post, he explains the advantages:
“I think this may actually be a better way to live in San Francisco. If I need a lot of space for a week, I can rent a spacious apartment. If I want to have a dinner party, I can rent a chic loft to host guests. If I plan to work late, I can rent a minimal space close to the office. I do not need to lug around 10,000 pounds of furniture with me everywhere I go.”
It’s not a lifestyle for everyone, but based on photos Chesky has posted, the guy could sleep on a rock.