Airbnb’s Brian Chesky: Designing for trust

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It all started with a box of cereal. Well, that’s not exactly the beginning, but when Brian Chesky and his roommates had maxed out their credit cards while starting up what would become Airbnb, they had a crazy idea to continue funding the company by designing and selling limited-edition cereal boxes during the 2008 presidential election, and call them Obama O’s & Captain McCain.

Now, 12 years later Airbnb just made its initial public offering—IPO—on the Nasdaq on December 10th, and what a ride it’s been. In this interview we speak with Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky, and learn how being a designer has influenced the arc of his journey, leading a company from a 3-person startup to a public company. We talk about what it’s like to design for trust during a pandemic, and the power of having a clear company mission that all can align to.

If— like some of our colleagues— you’re living in or working from an Airbnb right now, or have taken your family on a holiday made possible by them, we hope Brian’s story will be especially inspirational. As always, thanks for listening, and enjoy the show.

Takeaways:

  • Learn how Airbnb designs with a mission of belonging, to counteract the loneliness so common in our digital-first era.
  • Hear why Airbnb organizes their teams by customer journey
  • Learn about Project Lighthouse, Airbnb’s effort to combat discrimination.

66 episoder