Brian Chesky – CEO of Airbnb

Brian Chesky, the man who brought a perfect revolution in the travel industry. Along with his two cofounders and friends namely Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk. Brian Chesky is currently the CEO of Airbnb, an online peer-to-peer hospitality service for listing and booking rental accommodations. A former bodybuilder and a student of art created something that everybody found stupid, which makes him unique and different from all other CEOs. Let us take a look into the intriguing life of the man.

brain chesky
Born29 August 1981,
Niskayuna, New York
Nationality American
Occupation CEO and Co-founder, Airbnb
EducationBachelor of Fine Arts
from the Rhode Island
School of Design
Net Worth$9.3 Billion

The early life of Brian Chesky

Brian Chesky was born on August 29, 1981, in Niskayuna of New York. His parents are Deborah and Robert H. Chesky. He has a younger sister named Allison Chesky. Both his parents worked as social workers. As a child, he was interested in art. Therefore he went ahead and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design in 2004 from the Rhode Island School of Design. He also played hockey and was a bodybuilder during his college days. It was in RISD, that he met Joe Gebbia, who would later become the first co-founder of Airbnb.

Career of Brian Chesky

After completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial design he worked at 3DID Inc. in Los Angeles as an industrial designer and strategist. In October of 2007, he left his job to do something different and moved to San Francisco with Joe Gebbia.

History of Airbnb

The start of Airbnb can be best described with the word ‘weird’. Never in the history of startups, you might have heard such an interesting story. It all started back in 2007, when Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were not able to afford rent and decided to rent their apartment for money. Luckily for them, the Industrial Designers Society of America was hosting a conference in San Francisco and all hotel rooms were booked. They put up three air mattresses and marketed this idea as “Airbed and Breakfast”, with three guests who stayed the first night. A 35-year-old woman from Boston, A 45-year-old, father of four, from Utah, and a 30-year-old man from India making them the first official customers or guests of Airbnb.

Brian initially described Airbnb as “contracted the year-long friendship into a couple of days. So these people who came in as strangers they literally left as friends. In fact, one of those guests ended up inviting me to their wedding.”

Founding of Airbnb by Brian Chesky and his co-founders

In February of 2008, Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky’s former roommate, joined the as the third cofounder and became the Chief Technology Officer of Airbed and Breakfast. They put up a website offering short-term living quarters and breakfast for those who were unable to book a hotel in the packed market. The site officially launched on August 11, 2008. This was their third and final launch as Brian said in one of his interviews, “If you launch and nobody notices, you can actually keep just launching.” The founders had their first customers in the summer of 2008, during the Industrial Design Conference held by the Industrial Designers Society of America, where travelers had a hard time finding lodging in the city and the startup got almost 80 bookings but a week later there were none which made the founders difficult to fund their start-up.

To support the start-up they decided to launch cereal inspired by the 2008 United States presidential election, Barack Obama called the Obama O’s: The Breakfast of Change and John McCain called the Capt’n McCain’s: A Maverick in Everybite. They had the help of a local cereal maker, who was an alumnus of RISD as the founders hand-crafted and filled in the cereal boxes and sold them for $40 each box. Making a total of $30000 to fund their company.

In late 2008, the co-founders went ahead to Y Combinator, where they met Paul Graham, who was appalled by the idea. “He thought the idea was absolutely terrible. In fact, he said, ‘People are actually doing this?'” Brian said in the interview but this was the turning point of their career.

In January 2009, the founders were invited by Paul Graham for the winter training session of his Y Combinator, which provided them with training and $20,000 in funding in exchange for a 6% interest in the company. With the website already built, they used the investment to fly to New York to meet users and promoting the site. They returned to San Francisco with a profitable business model. By March 2009, the site had 10,000 users and 2,500 listings. The name of the company was also shortened to to eliminate confusion over the “air mattresses” situation.

In two years time, by March 2011 South by South West conference, Airbnb won the “app” award and by October of the same year, they had established their first office in London.

Due to the growth of international users, Airbnb had to open offices in cities like Paris, Milan, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Moscow, São Paulo, Sydney, and Dublin and also shared plans to launch their services in Thailand and Indonesia.

Airbnb’s revenue grew at a drastic rate of 80% in 2016. However, the company received a huge setback in 2019, due to the hit of COVID-19, where the bookings declined by more than 96% in most cities.

Criticisms and Controversy Related to Airbnb

Effects on housing affordability

Several studies have shown that long-term rental prices in many areas have increased because landlords have kept properties off the longer-term rental market to instead get higher rates for short-term housing via Airbnb. Landlords have also been accused of evicting tenants to get higher rents. The effect of Airbnb on housing affordability resulted in the increase in lodging regulations and restrictions.

Removal of listings from Israeli settlements

In 2018, Airbnb announced that they would remove the “listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians”. Which was received by huge protests from the people of that region and they filed lawsuits against the company. The United States blamed them for discriminating based on their place of residence.

Providing residence to extremists

In 2017, Airbnb canceled bookings and closed accounts belonging to attendees of the white nationalist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which was met with criticism from Jason Kessler, the organizer of the rally. Again in 2021, they were criticized for allowing participants of the January 6 attack on the United States to book units on the platform.

Illegal behaviour by the hosts

They were also criticized for their lack of action towards the host, who performed illegal acts against their guests.

Brian Chesky’s involvement in philanthropy

Brian Chesky donated the net earnings of his CEO equity compensation to the community, for humanitarian and charitable causes. In 2016, Brian joined the Warren Buffett’s and Bill Gates’ ‘The Giving Pledge’. Which consisted of a group of billionaires dedicated to giving a majority of their wealth away, to those in need. In May of 2022, He joined The Obama Foundation announcing a $100 million gift from Brian Chesky. The gift was to launch a scholarship program for students pursuing careers in public services.

The Voyager Scholarship also known as The Obama-Chesky Scholarship for Public Service aimed to support students in their junior and senior years of college with financial aid, a $10,000 stipend, and free Airbnb housing to pursue a summer work-travel experience between their junior and senior years of college; a $2,000 travel credit every year for 10 years following graduation; an annual summit; and a network of mentors.

Brian Chesky’s Achievements

Brain made it into the Forbes list of America’s Richest Entrepreneurs under 30 In 2015.

In 2015 he was named the TIME’s “100 Most Influential People”.

he became the ‘Ambassador of Global Entrepreneurship’, an award presented by President Barrack Obama In 2015.

In 2016, he was named the “Youngest Forbes 400” list.

he was named the “Bay Area Executive of the Year” by The Business Times In 2018.

In 2022, he was featured among the “100 Most Powerful People in Global Hospitality” by the International Hospitality Institute.

Brian Chesky’s net worth

As of 2023, his net worth is calculated to be $9.3 Billion

Brian Chesky Personal life

There is not much known about this CEO’s personal life but he is said to be in a relationship with an artist Elissa Patel, who he met online on Tinder. He said that they liked having staycations and booked hotels throughout San Francisco through Airbnb.

Famous must-know quotes by Brian Chesky

1) Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with passion.

2) Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like.

3) When you start a company, it’s more an art than a science because it’s totally unknown. Instead of solving high-profile problems, try to solve something that’s deeply personal to you. Ideally, if you’re an ordinary person and you’ve just solved your problem, you might have solved the problem for millions of people.

4) If you want to create a great product, just focus on one person. Make that one person have the most amazing experience ever.

5) As children, we have vivid imaginations. We stay up late waiting for Santa Claus, dream of becoming president and have ideas that defy physics. Then something happens. As we grow older, we start editing our imagination.

Unknown facts about Brian Chesky

1) Brian Chesky’s high school yearbook quote was “I’m sure I’ll amount to nothing.” He thought it to be funny. Fun fact, his dad didn’t.

2) In his early 20s, Brian Chesky was known to be a bodybuilder. He was described as having “16-inch biceps.”

3) Apple design chief Jony Ive wrote at the Times 100 in 2015, that Chesky’s “audacity is fabulous.”

4) Until a few years ago, Brian Chesky was still renting his couch on Airbnb but, after getting caught flouting a San Francisco law that required hosts to register with the city, Chesky took down the listing.

5) Brian Chesky is said to have begun his journey as an entrepreneur during his college days when he used to run a hockey team. When the hockey team was cancelled, he led his teammates in the rebranding of their team.


So this was how Brian Chesky founded a billion dollar company. This CEO’s life is a perfect example of succeeding in something that everybody finds stupid, just because your idea is unique.

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