Airbnb’s ability to generate news coverage and hype is the envy of competitors and travel startups, and CEO Brian Chesky just upped the ante with last night’s appearance on “The Colbert Report.”
“My guest Brian Chesky founded Airbnb which lets users stay in homes around the world,” Stephen Colbert said. “I have a product that does that. It’s called a crowbar.”
Chesky’s interview with Colbert didn’t reveal anything about where the business is heading, or what it may do with its new $475 million, but it was an opportunity for Chesky to talk about the business to an audience that matches perfectly with the short-term rental site’s demographics.
Below are edited excerpts from the interview. The full video is at the bottom of the post.
Colbert: What is the difference between Airbnb and just home prostitution? Some of the houses are literally on street corners?
Chesky: The whole idea is what if you could feel like you’re at home any where in the world? We wanted to take the strangers out of it.
Colbert: I have homes all over the world, I can do that.
Colbert: How do I know the person I’m staying with is not going to kill me and wear my skin?
Chesky: The whole idea is there’s no strangers here. You get to virtually meet people, you get to read their full profile. It works off a reputation of trust. You get to read the reviews of people who’ve stayed before with this host.
Colbert: I missed the day in Kindergarten where they taught us about sharing and I don’t like it. You’ve got Uber, you’ve got Task Rabbit you’ve got you guys. Eventually will everyone below the 1% just be helping each other? Why is this taking off?
Chesky: Now people in 60 seconds can be micro-entrepreneurs.
Colbert: Who doesn’t like you?
Chesky: There are some people who don’t want to change the way things are.
Colbert: Should people have the same rights as corporations?
Chesky: Everyone should be able to participate in the economy like a corporation.
Colbert: Have you ever had a bad experience with Airbnb?
Chesky: I did stay with a woman who had a parrot and that was awkward.
Colbert: One of my writers stayed at an Airbnb for about a month and when she left the host gave her a wide-screen TV and two mannequins. Is that standard protocol?
Chesky: The idea is that you never know what you’re going to get. Many people become friends after. There’s this wonderful cultural exchange.
Colbert: What’s you’re percentage on that?
Chesky: We take 13% off every booking.
Colbert: Is there any place you aren’t yet but you want to be?
Chesky: We are in every country other than North Korea, Iran, Syria and Cuba.
The full interview is below.