Brian Chesky is a co-founder of Airbnb, a peer-to-peer online marketplace for lodging. He went from an industrial designer making $40,000 a year to a billionaire after Airbnb disrupted the hotel industry, attracted capital from influential venture capital firms, and its valuation grew.
11 Things About Brian Chesky, Co-founder of Airbnb
1. Brian Chesky’s parents were social workers
Chesky was born in Niskayuna, New York. His parents were social workers. His dad Robert was of Polish descent and his mom Deborah was of Italian descent.
2. He got a degree in industrial design from the Rhode Island School of Design
Chesky attended Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in industrial design. That’s where he met Joe Gebbia, one of the co-founders of Airbnb. After college, Chesky worked as an industrial designer at 3DID, Inc. in Los Angeles for a salary of $40,000 per year.
3. He is a competitive bodybuilder
Chesky has big biceps and is not shy to show them off. He is a former hockey player and works out a lot to stay in shape. In his early twenties, he was a competitive bodybuilder
4. The idea for Airbnb came when he couldn’t afford to pay rent
In 2007, Chesky and his roommate Joe Gebbia could not afford to pay rent for the month. But the city was hosting the Industrial Designers Society of America conference. All the hotel rooms in the area were sold out. Chesky and Gebbia bought three air mattresses and sold their idea as “Airbed and Breakfast”. Three guests stayed in their apartment for a night. Thus the idea of Airbnb was born.
5. Airbnb attracted top VC funds in its early days
In 2009, the company received seed money of $600,000 from Sequoia Capital. In 2010, Airbnb raised $7.2 million from Greylock Partners and Sequoia Capital in a Series A round of funding. Having such well known funds backing it from the early days helped the company get the cash it needed badly but also raised its profile, allowing it to raise more money.
6. COVID-19 struggles At Airbnb
Airbnb’s business suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic as people stopped traveling. The company’s revenue dropped 80%. Airbnb laid off 25% of its workforce. But Chesky was widely commended for the way he handled the layoffs. Laid off employees were given generous severance packages and the company offered them help to find new jobs. But the company bounced back as COVID-19 waned.
7. Chesky led the company to a successful IPO in 2020
In December 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, Airbnb went public in 2020 at $68 per share. The stock price doubled on its debut and put the company’s valuation at over $100 billion, which topped the valuations of established companies such as Marriott International Inc. and Booking Holdings Inc.
8. Chesky is a billionaire
Chesky, who once struggled to pay rent, is now a billionaire thanks to ownership of Airbnb. Though the Airbnb stock has been volatile, Chesky is a member of the billionaire club.
Chesky has signed “The Giving Pledge”, an initiative launched by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet that encourages wealthy people to contribute most of their wealth to philanthropic causes either during their lifetime or upon death. Other wealthy entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have also joined “The Giving Pledge”.
10. Chesky is a good friend of Barack Obama
Chesky is good friends with President Barack Obama. He has a regular check-in call with Obama. Obama named Chesky as an Ambassador of Global Entrepreneurship in 2015.
11. Chesky dated Artist Elissa Patel
Chesky was in a relationship with Elisa Patel Waverly, the founder of East Darjeeling, a New York City store that sells floral headpieces handcrafted by American artisans.