Skift Take

Brian Chesky has big plans for Airbnb, with a vision that essentially reimagines the platform in its next generation. And he plans to be around for at least a couple more decades to see it all through.

Series: Skift Global Forum 2023

Skift Global Forum was held in New York City on September 26-28, 2023. Read coverage of the event at the link below.

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Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky last week discussed the hot topic of cleaning fees, primarily as it relates to the short-term rental company’s plans to move toward upfront pricing.

He detailed those plans and many others during a session at the Skift Global Forum moderated by Skift CEO Rafat Ali.

Among the other topics discussed: The legal battle in New York City, the future return of Airbnb experiences, user profiles, the integration of AI, creating a travel community, and Chesky’s career plans.

Watch the full video of Chesky’s interview below.

Interview Transcript

Rafat Ali: Hey Brian, how are you?

Brian Chesky: Hey, how you doing?

Ali: Good. Well, I’m sorry you’re not here in person. I know we’ve been doing this for a few years now and I hope to see you next year in person as well, but I know you’re there for a very important reason.

Chesky: Yeah. Hey everyone, sorry I couldn’t be there. I try to make an annual habit now to be with you in New York. I had a big trip to Europe. I am in Turin, Italy. I was in Europe, I was in Paris, and then I’ll later be in Milan. And the reason why is because as you know, we have a really big business in Europe and now that we’re in this post-pandemic period, it’s now more easy for me to travel and get around, and I wanted to really visit our local offices. I went to Paris. The Olympics are coming in 2024. We’re estimating over half a million people will stay in Airbnbs over a three week period, so we’re working really hard with them. Here in Italy, it’s one of our biggest markets. I came, I spoke for Italian Tech Week, so I think I’m going to make a habit of trying to get out into the communities because Airbnb is an incredibly global company. We’re probably, by some measures, maybe one of the most global travel companies. We’re not a European dominant business. We’re not a North American dominant business. We’re pretty much widely distributed across the world.

Ali: And is Paris still the biggest city where people come and stay? Because I remember that was the case pre-Covid.

Chesky: Yeah, Paris is the number one city in the world and we are expecting it to become even larger because of the Olympics, and one of the things that happens is events are one of the biggest reasons that Airbnb grows. Deloitte did a survey that said 20% of Parisians are interested in putting their home up on Airbnb for the Olympics. So it’s already our biggest market in the world and it’s going to probably even grow from there.

Ali: So I’m sitting here in New York City. You guys have been in a little bit of news with New York City. Let’s jump right into it. What happened and what could happen from here?

Chesky: What happened was in 2010, there was a law passed. Over the last 13 years we’ve been in discussion with the city and I was always hopeful that New York City would lead the way, that we would find a solution in New York and that people would say if they make it in New York, they can make it anywhere, and they’d take the model that we created in New York and they’d bring it all over the world. By the way, 13, 14 years ago, New York City was the majority of our business.

Something happened along the way. What happened along the way is 100,000 other cities joined Airbnb and along the way we started working with thousands of other cities, and we actually were able to find solutions with other cities around the world. You see, cities have a lot of challenges and a lot of questions about Airbnb. The first thing they said is, “We want to make sure you’re paying your fair share of taxes.” So we started working with over 1,000 jurisdictions around the world. Now we collect, or net, over $5 billion in hotel tax. Then they said, “Well, we want to make sure that people aren’t throwing parties in Airbnbs.” So we built this AI reservation screening technology, we launched this new technology in May. We believe we stopped over 340,000 attempted parties around the world. Then they said, “Well, we want to make sure that Airbnb is not taking housing off the market. We want to make sure that you have a really good guess.” And so we said, Okay, well let’s work with cities where national governments create a registration system and then people can register and you can decide how many nights you can rent. So in Paris’s registration system — and they decided to allow people to rent 120 nights a year. They feel like that’s the right amount of time — and this seems to really work. And system by system, I think there are really sensible solutions.

I think, unfortunately, New York is no longer leading the way. It’s probably a cautionary tale. Now, we weren’t able to find a solution, so you’re not going to be able to stay in Airbnb for less than 30 days. I think the consequence of this is going to be the following: Next year, I predict hotel rates will be more expensive, and the reason why is they’re not going to be building 20,000 more hotel rooms, so it’s going to be more expensive to stay in New York, and I think that’s unfortunate because it’ll be a little less accessible. The counter argument is, well, maybe all this housing is going to come back onto the market. My guess would be one year from now, do we think rents are going to be higher or lower? My prediction is hotel prices will be higher than they are today and rents will also be higher than they are today. And the reason why is because a lot of New Yorkers were actually, it turns out, pretty regular ordinary people that were dependent on Airbnb to pay their rent or mortgage. So I’m saddened, I’m disappointed. I think that we always were willing to come back to the table if another side is, but we are going to be working with cities all over the world, and thousands of other cities have chosen to go a different direction.

Ali: What’s your view of the hotel lobby? How much of a role did the hotel lobby in New York City, which is strong, have in getting this passed?

Chesky: I’m not an expert on that and obviously they wouldn’t tell me how involved they were, but I have to believe … I think that they were absolutely at the table. What I’ll just say is: I never felt like for Airbnb to win, hotels had to lose. The evidence of that is Airbnb — we had approximately 400 million guest arrivals last year, and yet last year, hotels had profits and revenue significantly higher than before we started. And the reason why is maybe three reasons. Number one, around half of our nights booked for stays longer than a week. Hotels don’t really serve that need of longer than a week that well.

Number two, people often travel with friends and family at Airbnb. Eighty percent of our stays are two people or more. You ever try to put an entire family in a hotel room? You ever try to travel with a group of friends, you all stay in different hotel rooms? A lot of people chose not to do that. And the third thing is we’re in a whole bunch of cities where there aren’t hotels. We’re in 100,000 cities. There are not hotels in 100,000 cities, so there is overlap. I’m not going to pretend there isn’t, but I do want to say there’s less overlap than anyone realizes, and Airbnb allowed a whole bunch of people to travel that weren’t traveling. I always feel like there’s a win-win, that if you have challenges, you don’t have to treat people as enemies. You can sit across the table, learn what their challenges are, and show that for me to win, you don’t have to lose. There can be a win-win. In 1950, as you know, 25 million people crossed the boarder of travel. Now we have more than a billion. I think we’re going to live in a world where 2, 3, 4 billion international tourists and rivals will one day happen because I think travel is one of the most aspirational activities in the world. When we graduate, we travel; when we get married, we travel; when we retire, we travel. And I think Airbnbs and hotels cannot meet the demand of this new century. We’re all going to have to scale together because this is going to be probably one of the greatest things that people will want to consume are travel experiences.

Ali: I’ve heard pretty much every podcast that you’ve ever been on, I’ve interviewed you many times myself. You talk a lot about affordability, how as a product, you’re very focused on making sure Airbnb is affordable. Why do you care about affordability? Shouldn’t the market decide?

Chesky: When we started Airbnb, the original tagline was, “An affordable alternative to a hotel.” The reason we started Airbnb is because a design conference came to San Francisco and the hotels were either sold out or too expensive. I think that Airbnb has always been a way to help democratize travel. As you make something more affordable, more people do it. Airbnb has always been a brand for young people. I was 26 when I started this company. I want to know, in my heart, that the 26-year-old me, if they were alive today, they would still use Airbnb. And if that’s true, then that would have to be affordable. 

The market can create the best price. But what the market has been telling us for the last couple of years, as the price of Airbnbs have gone up significantly over the last five years — we’ve heard tens of thousands of people go on social media and complain. And I’ve also told our hosts, here’s the great thing, it can be a win-win. You see, if a hotel is at 80% or 90% occupancy, the way for them to make more money is to probably increase rates. There’s not a lot of room in occupancy. A lot of Airbnbs run a very low occupancy. They could be running at 20%-30%. So, actually for many hosts, they can make more money, within a reason, if they charge a little less and then increase occupancy. You charge $5, $10 a night less, you rent a few more nights a month, you’re actually typically going to make more money.

So we want to find this balance, this win-win where Airbnb still is a brand for the new generation that’s still affordable. It’s a great value and hosts are still able to earn money and we just want to make sure that people feel like they have a good value and if there’s really big cleaning fees that don’t make sense, if people were surprised, I think that’s a problem. I think that part got a little out of control, but we’re trying to really help work with hosts to reign that in. And the great outcome of all this is in the last year, at least globally as of July, CoStar said that hotel prices were up 10% and our prices were flat or down 1%. So I think it’s going in the right direction. I think one more year of this, and I think we’re going to have a lot of advantage over hotels. And unfortunately, many cities including New York, they’re going to get more expensive.

Ali: The hotel industry talks a lot about [average daily rate] and [revenue per available room] as the metrics in which they benchmark the success. In terms of metrics and what you benchmark your success on, clearly because you’ve chosen the affordability tag. That’s not a metric. What’s the numerical metric for you? One or two, that for you, is a success?

Chesky: I’ll give you the short answer and the long answer. The short answer is every quarter we have a shareholder letter and we list nights booked, GBV, gross booking value; the overall money spent, so nights booked times price per night; revenue, which is our take rate; and then all the bottom line metrics, basically EBITDA, free cash flow, net income. I think that if I were to simplify it, I think from a financial standpoint, revenue and maybe free cash flow and/or net income are the most important metrics. And the reason why is if we only measure nights booked, we can expand a low [average daily rate] markets like India, and that’s good, but that could obfuscate the financial bottom line. So you have to really look at the revenue and the profitability. That being said though, I think there’s some broader measures of success that are maybe a little bit harder to measure. They’re probably more important long-term. The broader measures of success are like what percent of customers are leaving five star reviews; how many of them are satisfied; what percent of the new generation uses Airbnb; what are people’s sentiment towards the company; how great is our product; how safe is it; how many party incidents are there for every 100 trips; how many people called customer service with a problem; how many people who book rebook.

Maybe most of all at the most fundamental level, how much do people love this company? Because I started in Y Combinator and Paul Graham said, “Make something people want, and the better thing to do is to make something people genuinely love.” And we’re in the business of emotion of aspiration. So I obsess over creating the most amazing product. I’m in the details. I will say that most of the travel CEOs are probably more financially oriented by background and they probably spend more of their time looking at metrics and data. What I spend my time looking at is user research. I obsess over the app, every part of the flow, the advertising, the promise we’re making, how we’re handling customer support calls, and I obsess over all the complaints people get. We’ve blueprinted everything and we want to systematically address every complaint. And I think if we do that, in the next few years there’s going to be a tipping point where a whole bunch of people that were staying in hotels will try Airbnb, and I think we’ll reach a whole new opportunity for growth.

Ali: Speaking of complaints, and you have been very open about this, the term junk fees has stuck to the industry. This is a term that came probably into vogue over the last year. The Biden administration in the U.S. has talked about it. What’s your philosophy on price and price transparency? Let’s start with that because then I want to dig into a couple of those things as well.

Chesky: Well, I think that you want to be as simple as possible for the customer and you want to do what’s best for them. And so in Europe, prices are regulated so everyone displays prices the same way, but this junk fee, or drip pricing, whatever you want to call it, is primarily a U.S. phenomenon. And the problem we had for years was we wanted to move to more transparent pricing, but when we did tests, people would come to Airbnb and they’d see prices different than other websites and they didn’t know why they were different and they didn’t realize: Well actually, we’re not more expensive; we’re just including the fees upfront. So we were trying to figure out a way to educate the customers that we’re going to upfront pricing because it’s simple, it’s best for the customer, and lso, we don’t want to create unintended consequences.

You see, when we started, there were no cleaning fees on Airbnb. There were no extra charges. We didn’t even initially collect remit hotel tax. And then over time, a whole bunch of fees got added. And so we decided that we wanted to move towards more upfront pricing so people knew what they were doing. 

So we designed this way, where there’s a toggle. We don’t want anyone to miss it. We don’t want people to think we’re trying to be cute. So when you open the app, it’s the first thing you see. It’s the highest, it’s larger type than the search box. It’s a button that turns black when you hit the toggle. It’s the first thing you see. And we want to train the customer over the next year or two to turn on upfront pricing. When you turn it on, you leave, you come back in a month, it should remember your pricing and keep it on.

When enough American travelers and customers are trained, we would like to just move that to default-on for everyone. But again, we want people to know that our prices are being shown different than the competitors. There may be a scenario down the road where there will be regulation. If there’s regulation, then it’s a level playing field, but at this point it’s not. We are choosing to show prices more transparently than others. I think one other hotel brand does have an upfront price toggle. It’s not as prominent, though, and I think we try to aim for the most prominence.

Ali: Can you eliminate cleaning fees? Is there a way that in your head you think that cleaning fees can be eliminated?

Chesky: Essentially, yes. So there’s a reason why cleaning fees on Airbnb exist. At a hotel, obviously they have cleaning people on staff and they bake the cost of cleaning into the nightly rate. There’s a whole bunch of hosts, though, that may rent for one night or one month; if they rent for a night or a month, they still have a fixed cost, and so hosts want to add a fixed cost to their nightly rate. Additionally, we also want hosts to try to pay their cleaners a fair living wage and it does cost money to get people to come to, say, an Airbnb that is a little bit longer commute. So instead of just saying a host can’t build a fixed cost or a nightly rate, which hotels do, just create a situation where they can amortize it.

So if I charge $100 a night and I want to add a cleaning fee, then it’s amortized over nightly rates by displaying the upfront pricing. So the way we are solving this, instead of just removing the option for hosts to input it, say as far as the guest is concerned, when they turn that toggle on, they’re never going to see a cleaning fee. It’s going to be baked into that nightly rate just like a hotel without cleaning fees. And we also prioritize in search ranking the total nightly rate. So we no longer rank and allow for people to have a very low nightly rate and then, surprise: you have cleaning fees. So this upfront pricing model, with ranking the best total nightly, is essentially very close to the perceived elimination of cleaning fees. And once you default the toggle on, you’re basically there because then you’re just baking a fixed cost into the nightly rate.

Ali: I have so many questions that I have to ask you and we have 14 minutes, 41 seconds left. So many people know you are speaking here. One of the top questions that came to me is, what is happening to experiences? Can you invest in it again? Can something happen that will revive the experiences part of your business?

Chesky: It’s probably one of the most commonly asked questions. It is one of the most common answers that I have to say, which is coming soon. Let me just say this: The percentage of people that leave a five-star review on experiences is higher than the people who leave a five-star review on homes. I think it’s like something like 94% of experiences, we get five-star reviews. I thought before the pandemic that we were going to lean into experiences and it was a breakout year. When the pandemic occurred, we had to focus on our core and we actually put experiences on pause because people didn’t want to gather.

Then we had to get really focused on fixing our core business. We lost 80% of our business in eight weeks, so we had to rebuild the company. We have focused on perfecting our core business. That’s what we’re trying to do. You’ll notice this year I went on Twitter, I asked, “What can we do to improve Airbnb?” I got thousands of responses. We’ve made over 50 updates in May. And then last week I announced in New York another five updates, including verifying every single listing. I shared updates to cleaning fees, that a quarter million hosts have removed or lowered cleaning fees; 3 million listings don’t have cleaning fees.

This is the year of perfecting the core. The reason we want to perfect the core is because we believe that people won’t want something new from us unless they love the current thing. So I’ll give you one example. In 2006, I remember I was 25 years old and Apple had iPods and everyone loved their iPod, and so you probably remember in 2006, everyone rooting for Steve Jobs to get on stage and announce an iPhone. But the only reason we wanted him to announce an iPhone is because we thought it would be a good product because we loved the iPod. How many people were rooting for Dell to come out with a phone? They actually did, but people weren’t rooting for it because they didn’t have the same emotional attachment.

So I told our team that before we expand beyond our core, revisit a relaunch of experiences and do other things, we really need to make sure we perfect our core. But the last thing I’m going to say is I know people are going to want experiences, and I’ll give you one example. Two days ago you might’ve noticed, people might’ve heard that we announced that you can now book the Shrek home on Airbnb. It doesn’t even exist. It was a space that we built in Scotland. Up until now, the most popular listing ever on Airbnb was the Barbie listing in Malibu. That Barbie listing in Malibu got three times the amount of press as our IPO. Two days ago, we put up Shrek. It’s now got 100 million impressions online. These are not just spaces, they’re basically experiences.

What this is proving to me is that people want Airbnb to be more than just a utility, that ultimately they think of Airbnb at its best as an experience. So though I don’t have anything to announce to you about experiences, I’ll say a couple things. Number one, we’ve been focused on perfecting our core. Number two, we are going to revisit and relaunch that product and it’s going to be completely new. Completely reimagined, completely fresh. Number three, you’ll be one of the first people I tell about it as I do every new thing we do.

Ali: I appreciate it. Thanks. Hopefully we’ll break it before you tell us. You and I have talked a bunch about AI and when I met you in May, you talked about how you want to reinvent Airbnb in your mind at least, and we will start seeing the results next year. And so give us a sense, I guess since May some of the air has come out of the first wave of hype of AI potentially, at least on the consumer side. What’s your current view on how generative AI could change what Airbnb is today?

Chesky: There’s an old saying, “We overestimate what we can accomplish in a year and underestimate what we can accomplish in 10 years.” You’ve probably heard that. I think that’s true of AI. I think that generally people are overestimating how much the world’s going to change over the next year, especially in travel with AI, and maybe we’re underestimating what’s possible in 10 years. Not a ton about the travel industry is going to dramatically change in the next 12 months because it’s a massive industry. I think we generally thought in the near term that number one, engineers could be, say, 30% more productive and that customer service agents could be much more productive because a lot of the tickets could be handled by AI or that they could be augmented with AI. Both of those things are proving out, but what has been clear to me is I think that AI, the engineering productivity is going to take longer than people thought because it’s just going to take time for people to get used to new tools, and the tools need to continue to improve, but it will get there.

On customer service, I think Airbnb more than hotels will benefit from AI. The reason why is, think of when you’re in a hotel, you know all the problems in your building. Airbnb is in every neighborhood; we can’t possibly know every single thing. And when people call us, we have agents who were just hired, maybe they were trained three months ago, they’re reading between 70 different policies. Some of these can be 100 pages long between two people in different countries that want a resolution and you have to give a resolution right on the spot. That is very difficult to do. AI can level the playing field and I think create an incredible experience. So productivity engineers and customer service are two of the near term things.

The biggest thing we’re probably focused on right now, and it’s going to play out over the coming years, is reimagining the entire experience of Airbnb, the search and booking and beyond of Airbnb with AI. As I said to you in May, the challenge with an app like ChatGPT is that when you ask it a question, when I ask it a question, we get the same answer and that’s great for some questions, but it turns out that travel, we should all not be getting the same answer.

We should all not be going to Paris on the same date, that we have different budgets, we have different dreams, we have different desires, we have different reasons for going. And that what if an app could get to know you, to understand you, to understand your preferences, and then almost be like a concierge or matchmaker matching you to people, places, experiences, and services all over the world. So the key thing, here’s the key inside of AI. It’s not just AI you need to build, you need to build your foundational capabilities. If we want AI to deeply know you, we’ve got to invest in identity. That’s why we are verifying the identity of every single user.

We have to build rich user profiles. We have to have really good structured data. So what we’ve been doing is laying the groundwork for a really big breakthrough.

But I just want to remind people that we have to be careful about a fetishization of AI, of every new technology. A new technology comes around and then a whole bunch of people use a bunch of buzzwords, AI, this is going to change everything and they quickly launch these gimmicks. We’ve never wanted to be one of those companies that launches AI gimmicks. We did not do ChatGPT plugins. I told Sam because I didn’t think the integration was yet a great experience, that people want a more visual experience. So it’s going to take some time for AI to truly change travel and be great. You’re going to have to start with modest steps, but I think it will happen in the future.

Ali: If you were in the room, people would clap after that, by the way, just because everybody’s been talking about AI all the time. So this is a little bit in the weeds question, a bunch of the property management companies have been struggling. So there’ve been layoffs at companies like Vacasa, Evolve, Sonder, Avanti. These are companies that list on Airbnb and they’ve struggled stock-wise as well. These are your partners, if you will. Does it mean anything for your business if you see all these layoffs of these property management companies? I don’t know if you pay attention to that part.

Chesky: I do pay it a little bit of attention. I mean, obviously Airbnb, the vast majority of our hosts, 90% are individuals and they don’t manage as many properties. So we have the large property managers. Most of the tools we built are for individuals. I think that there’s a couple observations I have. The first observation is on balance, the companies will have lots and lots of properties. I’m not going to name any names, but they generally have lower five star reviews. Now, there are exceptions, but one of the things that’s happened is that as companies get really big, they have trouble maintaining the quality control. So how do you industrialize hospitality without feeling commoditized, while still feeling personal? And there’s a reason people didn’t choose a hotel, they chose a home. They probably wanted a more personal experience. But as you drift towards a hotel, you may lose the advantage of staying in a home, and you don’t have the efficiencies economically of a hotel. I think the other thing is that I think that these businesses tend to be kind of capital intensive.

And when you have a capital intensive business that’s highly distributed, again, that can be very inefficient. You can solve this problem. It’s just that it’s highly difficult from an operational perspective to be able to pull off world-class hospitality in a distributed fashion while not getting industrialized and providing a deeply personal experience. But if you can do that, then I think you can be very successful. And we do have property managers, maybe they’re really successful. The ones that are successful are surprise, surprise, the ones that provide great experiences and they do that really efficiently. In other words, they have a low cost base. Those are the two things. And if you have a high cost base and low quality, then you’re going to struggle. And I’m not saying that’s why companies have struggled. I’m just saying that’s the equation that you would need.

Ali: You’ve talked a lot about loneliness. You actually spoke about it last year on stage here as well, and you’ve said you wanted to move Airbnb from a travel service to a travel community, which is a high bar. And so how are you thinking about bringing the community? The hotels say, “Well, guess what? Airbnb doesn’t have a community. We at least have a lobby.” And so how do you think about community from a product perspective?

Chesky: It’s a great question. I would say we do have a community, but it could be better fostered. Here, let me give you an example: 70% of people on Airbnb, after they stay in Airbnb, they leave a review. Why do they leave a review? They leave a review not for themselves, but for the next person that they are never going to meet to stay in that home. So people do have a sense that they’re giving back to the community after the stay. We don’t pay them, we don’t give them a discount. We don’t give them a subsidy to leave that review. But I do think that we could have a stronger community. And let me give you a couple examples. 

The first thing is I think the atomic unit of Airbnb needs to shift from a listing to a profile. Our profiles hadn’t been updated in a long time. So the first thing we said is we need to first have real data, real verified data. So we basically now verify the identity of every guest and every host in Airbnb, and we’re going to be continuing in the coming year to strengthen that identification system to make sure you are who you say you are. That’s the foundation of trust. You don’t want to meet somebody if you don’t even know they are who they say they are. The next thing is we created these host passports for rooms and we’re basically continuing to make profiles more and more rich so you can learn about people. So that’s what we’ve already done. So now let’s go into the future. Next May, we’re going to have our summer release, and while I’m not going to overly share everything we’re doing, I can say that we’re going to make some very big steps forward with the community.

Ultimately, I think Airbnb could be much better for, say, group travel. A lot of people travel with their family and friends. If you’re lonely, I’m not to say exactly how to solve that problem, but I do know that one of the best things we know, the research tells us, is to spend time with your loved ones, and if you can get away from your house. I have college friends, high school friends, they don’t live in the same city as me, so I travel with them once a year. If we can make it easier to travel with people, if we can make it better for people to meet each other. We have 500,000 people staying in Paris. Imagine if those people could connect with one another based on their preferences. These are some of the things that one could do, and I think Airbnb will be at its best when it’s about bringing people together, not just connecting to spaces.

Ali: What would make you leave Airbnb?

Chesky: Old age.

Ali: You’re obviously very young still … but in your mind, what will you lose that will make you lose interest?

Chesky: Maybe I can tell you about my dreams by telling you about my heroes. I’ve had a lot of them, but I’ve had two entrepreneurial heroes in my life. I’ve talked about them with you before. I’ll just say them again. First was Walt Disney. Walt Disney was one of the great entrepreneurs of the 20th century. He was born in 1901, died in 1966. He died at the age of 65. When Walt Disney died in the hospital, he was basically looking at ceiling tiles, imagining how he was going to design the new Disney World. In other words, he was at his creative peak at the age of 65, and he died doing what he loved. Unfortunately died too early of lung cancer. Steve Jobs would be my other hero. He died unfortunately, I believe at the age of 56 prematurely, and he was CEO until two or three months before his death. I think he resigned in August and passed away in October. And they’re the idols that I’ve looked up to. And let me just say why. Yes, they’re icons. Yes, they left companies that are bigger and stronger and enduring brands after they died than when they were even alive. But the reason I personally identify with them is because they’re creative people. They’re creative people that essentially ran technology companies. And for me, they were role models. So they were people for whom intuition, creativity, love, brand — these were things that were paramount to everything they did. They believed in storytelling, creating magical experiences. And so the reason I bring them up is I believe they’ve shown that you can be in your creative peak, at least in your mid-fifties and maybe in your mid-sixties. What would actually make me leave Airbnb is I and the board decided that there was somebody better to get it to the next level.

But the thing is this, that you can’t hire a founder. There’s only one founder and I know how to build a company, and so I have all the benefits of a founder. I have the authority of a founder. I know where it came from. I have the vision, the passion, and the ability to do it. My biggest weakness was I was young, I didn’t have a lot of operating experience, but now every year I get more and more of that too. So long as I’m the best person to run this company and I’m healthy, I’m going to keep doing it. I think I have a couple more decades in front of me.

Ali: All right, founder to founder, thank you very much and hope to see you in person next year.

Chesky: Well, thank you. Thank you for having me.

Ali: Thank you. Appreciate it.


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Tags: airbnb, ceo interviews, future of lodging, sgf2023, skift global forum

Photo credit: Brian Chesky joined the 2023 Skift Global Forum via livestream. Skift / Skift

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