Airbnb has been working on something big and the secret has recently been revealed by CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky who says that his company is ready to take off in the travel industry with the next big plan: to build an airline that makes Airbnb a one-stop shopping experience for travelers.
Starting its own Airline
Airbnb’s staggeringly ambitious co-founder has been hard at work to expand the home-sharing app and turn it into a comprehensive platform which offers services that go beyond finding accommodation. 36-year-old Brian Chesky is everything you can expect from a Silicon Valley prince.
He walks into the company’s conference room, in his casual jeans and t-shirt, several minutes before the meeting starts and earnestly addresses Airbnb’s core values and mission – which, surprisingly, have nothing to do with making profit.
The $31-billion company, which is on the verge of approaching a $4-billion turnover, says that its primary concern is to ensure that customers have a memorable stay in their Airbnb accommodation. But despite insisting that earning profits is not the number one goal, the company is certainly raking in billions of dollars every year.
A ‘One-Stop Shop’ Business Model
Chesky’s ambitions are truly admirable. A man who built his home-sharing idea into the world’s biggest hotel company, without purchasing a single hotel, is now moving on to the next big plan on his check-list: to build an airline. The 36-year-old CEO admits that this won’t be an easy feat which is why his company has been discussing various concepts in the aviation field to try to find the best way to venture into an end-to-end trip business.
His sky-rocketing ambitions have also led to conflicts within the company and even became the reason behind Laurence Tosi’s, the chief financial officer, decision to resign. Tosi, who had been working on the Wall Street until 2015, didn’t believe that Airbnb would be able to pull off its airline idea without going into bankruptcy. Chesky, on the other hand, doesn’t share the same sentiment as Tosi.
There are other plans on Chesky’s agenda as well, including a world-wide apartment business for long-term rentals. It’s obvious that the company is taking a leaf out of Amazon’s playbook, which started as a platform for other suppliers to sell goods but slowly started manufacturing its own products and selling them at lower price.
Revamping the Home-Sharing Platform
The company also celebrated its 10th anniversary by redesigning the Airbnb website with the aim to declutter the space and make it easier for users to find accommodation according to their needs. What started out as a platform with a few thousand hosts has quickly grown into millions of listings worldwide. The website now uses a cluster of new categories to organize the listings, making it quicker for traveler to find what they’re looking for.
Chesky says that if Airbnb is to reach the same level of innovation and growth as some of the most formidable players in the tech industry like Amazon, then the plan to launch its own airline business is inevitable.
Chesky, who was raised by two social workers in a small town of upstate New York, says that his mother always advised him to choose a career that earns him a lot of money which is why he decided to attend a design school and become an artist. At his university, he met Joe Gebbia, a tech enthusiast who later became the co-founder of Airbnb. Both Chesky and Gebbia tired their hand at entrepreneurship but it wasn’t until 2007 that they stumble upon their big idea of launching a home-sharing app for travelers looking for cheap accommodation.
Initially, they offered their air-mattresses to visitors coming into town for a design conference. The first version of their website was called AirBed and Breakfast and the only house listed on it was theirs. Soon, they received a generous amount of $20,000 by Y Combinators to build a better version of the app and use various platforms to market it. Today, the co-founding duo is worth $4 billion each.