June 16, 2021

“I thought we had left for a desert crossing, and it’s the other way around”

Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, likes to talk about homes. From his in San Francisco, which he sometimes makes available on the platform that made him rich. From that of his parents in Niskayuna, a charming town in New York State: Monday, presenting a major overhaul of Airbnb, he pretended to open it for rental. Finally, that which caught fire in March 2020, when the pandemic caused the cessation of its activities: Airbnb. “The house was on fire and we couldn’t save everything. One must have wondered what was the most important thing to protect from the flames. And that was what made us successful: the individual hosts and the connection that can take place, anywhere in the world, between people. ”

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Driven by the pandemic, Airbnb is moving away from cities and their regulatory constraints

Brian Chesky, 39, recounts Tuesday May 25 to World his baptism of fire as an entrepreneur from his home, crew neck t-shirt like his idol Steve Jobs. Has he removed the doubts about his ability to decide? Still, fourteen months after stopping the trip, Airbnb took off again when its competitors, distributors – Booking, Expedia – or hotel chains, are still in the departure lounge. “I thought we had left for a very, very long crossing of the desert, and the reverse happened”, he observes. Enough to consolidate the sensational IPO last December and its valuation of 100 billion dollars (82 billion euros approximately), sometimes considered irrational for a company that has never presented a profitable financial year.

“Brian, you can do whatever you want, but not at the same time”

Before the storm, Captain Chesky was tackling, so much so that his partners openly questioned – but anonymously – a costly acquisition and diversification strategy: hotel distribution, transport, audiovisual creation studio, luxury concierge, etc. bad weather, Brian Chesky has therefore put to sleep certain parallel activities and brutally dismissed a quarter of its employees – 1,900 people. In addition to the impact on the quality of customer service or security checks, the co-founder threw overboard the patiently constructed image of a family business, where birthdays and hires were still celebrated.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also “We must go back to our roots”: Airbnb lays off a quarter of its employees and seeks to reinvent itself

Today, he believes that Airbnb is leaving “With the wind at your back” when the tourist weather seems to say the opposite: until 2020, two-thirds of the site’s income was linked to international travel and urban tourism, both at a standstill.

You have 61.96% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.