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The Airbnb Story: How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions . . . and Created Plenty of Controversy Paperback – February 13, 2018
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In under a decade, Airbnb became the largest provider of accommodations in the world. At first just the wacky idea of cofounders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb has disrupted the $500 billion hotel industry—and its $30 billion valuation is now larger than that of Hilton and close to that of Marriott. Airbnb is beloved by the millions of members in its “host” community and the travelers they shelter every night. And yet, even as the company has blazed such an unexpected path, this is the first book solely dedicated to the phenomenon of Airbnb.
Fortune editor Leigh Gallagher explores the success of Airbnb, along with the more controversial side of its story. Regulators want to curb its rapid expansion; hotel industry leaders wrestle with the disruption it has caused them; and residents and customers alike struggle with the unintended consequences of opening up private homes for public consumption. This is also the first in-depth study of Airbnb's leader, Brian Chesky, the quirky and curious young CEO, as he steers the company into new markets and increasingly uncharted waters.
"An engrossing story of audacious entrepreneurism and big-industry disruption, The Airbnb Story is a tale for our times.” --Charles Duhigg, author of bestsellers Smarter Faster Better and The Power of Habit "Gallagher captures the remarkable journey of Airbnb exceedingly well; she takes readers from its earliest and scrappiest days through becoming an enduring company with a brand beloved by millions around the world.” --Reid Hoffman, partner at Greylock Partners “A fast paced, fun dive into one of the seminal firms of our time; though the tale of Airbnb, Leigh Gallagher shows us how the sharing economy can be a force for emotional connection -- as well as for social and business disruption." -- Rana Foroohar, Financial Times columnist and CNN global economic analyst. “A must-read for anyone who has wondered where Airbnb came from and where this highly popular and very disruptive company might be headed. Leigh Gallagher takes you on a journey from the idea all the way to the company's current multi-billion dollar valuation.”-- Bethany McLean, co-author of bestsellers The Smartest Guys in the Room and All the Devils Are Here “Leigh Gallagher has written a compelling history of Airbnb’s journey from a crazy, it-will-never-work idea to becoming a totally disruptive force.” --Tony Hsieh, bestselling author of Delivering Happiness and CEO of Zappos.com, Inc. “‘The Airbnb Story’ does yeoman’s work explaining the Airbnb phenomenon to the uninitiated.” -- San Francisco Chronicle "Highly recommended for researchers and students of business as well as potential entrepreneurs, and anybody interested in Airbnb’s success story." -- Library Journal, *starred* review —
About the Author
She is also a frequent speaker at Fortune conferences as well as a seasoned moderator and keynote speaker. Leigh's first book, The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving, published in 2013, has been described as a “first-rate social history,” a “steel fist in a velvet glove,” and “fascinating reading on changing trends in how and where we live.” Leigh is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; from 2012–2014, she was a visiting scholar at the Business and Economic Reporting Program at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. Before joining Fortune in 2007, Leigh was a senior editor at SmartMoney and a writer for Forbes. Originally from Media, Pennsylvania, Leigh is a graduate of Cornell University and lives in New York.
- Publisher : Harper Business; Reprint edition (February 13, 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1328745546
- ISBN-13 : 978-1328745545
- Item Weight : 7.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.66 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,131,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #459 in Venture Capital (Books)
- #1,800 in Company Business Profiles (Books)
- #6,871 in Entrepreneurship (Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on December 12, 2019
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Top reviews from the United States
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Leigh is a truly gifted storyteller, and this is a fascinating story. The detail and nuance is remarkable. You can really tell this is written by a talented journalist. The prose flows fluidly and easily, capturing the essence and culture of the company wonderfully. There's a natural harmony between the style of the book and the personality of the company itself. (I particularly enjoyed the chapters "Air Rage" and "Airbnb Nation.)
I've spent a lot of time understanding Airbnb and studying the sharing economy over the last six years, and I learned a lot I didn't know. You will as well. And you'll enjoy the process. Highly recommended!
Though there's an extensive discussion of disruption in the hotel industry, opposition in cities and already much-publicized horror stories, the book barely mentions how this company has transformed the lives of ordinary people since the Great Recession. For example, by being both a host and a guest via Airbnb, I was able to quit the job from hell and divide my time between New York City and France. It turns out, as the author tells us deep into "The Airbnb Story," that she has very little firsthand experience using the platform, and prefers to stay in hotels.
Also, If Airbnb is still the company of "belonging", as apparently CEO Chesky upholds it as their mission, then except for a few horror stories about hosting experiences, there is nothing in the book about that "belonging", i.e. the relationship between hosts and guests and the company. The author clearly concentrates on Airbnb and their ever evolving business model. She completely bypasses an analysis of the essential part of what made Airbnb the company that it is. Perhaps she should have stayed at multiple Airbnb listings aside from the one in Georgetown that referred to her as the Four Seasons Queen, and she would have gained more insight into the back bone of the company. To her it is basically Millenials filling other Millenials needs.
In her acknowledgements she states that "this book came together quickly and with a village of help" : it clearly reads that way, and I would have preferred getting the info I got in a well written shorter and more focused article.
Top reviews from other countries
Shoe Dog (Nike) – Phil Knight
Super Pumped (Uber) – Mike Isaac
That will never work (Netflix) – Mark Randolph
The Airbnb story – Leigh Gallagher
I would rank it at #4. I was looking for more substance around the story of the founding and the early days struggles. Shoe Dog and Super Pumped are superior in this respect. The tack taken here is more a litany of customer and host experiences. One incident in particular is covered in far too much detail, more like a newspaper expose of bad practice.
Sorry, this one was my least favourite.
In October 2007, Brian Chelsky, Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk rented airbeds to strangers at their apartment in San Francisco out of necessity to fund their upcoming rent payment. From these grass roots, this discovery eventually evolved into the travel behemoth you will recognise today.
Airbnb is a business fuelled by trust and the book covers how the founders set about designing a system which seeks to enable trust between strangers as well as providing detail on some of the obstacles the company had to overcome along the way. Including, the struggle to find initial funding, the threat from competition (and how the company staved of the infamous Samwer brothers), battles with various regulators and dealing with bad press when things inevitably went wrong.
One thing that quickly becomes apparent is the sense of greater purpose (above and beyond any profit driven motive) behind the company’s pursuits and how this purpose has become embedded throughout the culture. Encapsulated by a restatement to the company’s mission in 2014 – to create world where anyone can belong anywhere.
This has undoubtedly been a key driver behind the company’s success and management’s inherent focus on doing right by its stakeholders (shareholders, employees guests, hosts, communities) has proved a useful tool when navigating the political landscape on its endeavours to achieve widespread acceptance.
My only criticism of the book (and is one the author touches on) in that much of the content will be outdate by the time it gets to the reader. The book draws to a close as the next chapter for Airbnb is beginning – the launch of its second product. Writing this in 2020, we are now four years on since the Airbnb Open where trips was announced and I for one would be interested to revisit this topic and learn more about the challenges Airbnb has faced with the launch of this product.