Airbnb: From sharing economy leader to global changer

June 3, 2014

Today, the company that Chesky founded in 2007 with Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb, is valued at $10 billion dollars and has rental listings in 192 countries. Now, Chesky says he asks the question, “What if we’d never taken the chance?” His personal stake in the company will make him, at 32 (33 in August, as one employee pointed out), one of the world’s youngest billionaires.

The success he’s enjoyed has been as enormous as the 72,000-square-foot office space Airbnb calls home but it hasn’t come without challenges. There have been some high-profile incidents of apartments being ransacked, trashed or used for sex parties. Chesky admits that in the beginning his company may have been a bit cavalier, if not outright foolish, in its approach to security. After a major incident in 2011, Airbnb implemented insurance policies and now has 100 employees devoted exclusively to trust and safety. Still, from time to time trouble arises. Just this past April, I read about Airbnb apartments being turned into brothels by prostitutes in New York City.

Chesky points out that while these kinds of mishaps have happened, Airbnb has more than 600,000 listings and has had millions of guests who’ve rented from hosts, with no problems.

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