Airbnb: From failing startup to $30bn company

The group celebrated its tenth birthday this year.

Celebrating its tenth birthday this year and preparing for an initial public offering in 2019, Airbnb has gone from strength to strength and is valued at roughly $31 billion.

Founded in 2008 by Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky, Airbnb has single-handedly changed the hospitality market.

The pair pitched the idea at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver and carried out an offline marketing campaign, which was followed by their first round of funding by Paul Graham.

Despite 15 rejections, the co-founders persisted and by 2009 gained $600 thousand seed fund from Sequoia Capital in April 2009 and has attracted large amounts of funding since.

The growth of the hospitality website has led to recent criticism, where it is argued that it is locking out local renters in favour of those who buying apartments to lease to tourists rather than sustaining the local neighbourhood.

A recent study said: “Airbnb has driven up long-term rental prices by 1.4 percent, or $384 per year, for the median New York City renter. The research suggests that both restricted availability in the long-term rental market and increased financial incentives in the short-term rental market account for this increase.”

In response, Airbnb’s public policy chief at the time, David Hantman, wrote in Vice that the group “makes cities more affordable,”.

“Sixty two percent of Airbnb hosts in New York said Airbnb helped them stay in their homes and the typical Airbnb host in New York earns $7,530 per year — a modest, but significant amount that can make a huge difference for families.”

Airbnb remains a private company but is preparing for a public offering in 2019. 

“We have investors who are really patient and I want to make sure that it’s a major benefit to the company when we do it,” said Chesky.

A new law in Japan forced the company to cancel existing bookings that are not currently in compliance, leading to thousands of cancellations and the group to reimburse customers.