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The history of Airbnb, from air mattresses to $31 billion company


Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, airbnb, sv100 2015
Airbnb co-founders Brian Chesky (right), Nathan Blecharczyk (center), and Joe Gebbia (left).

Airbnb announced it plans to go public in 2020 on Thursday.

Long before Airbnb persuaded strangers to sleep in one another’s homes and became a $31 billion company, it was just an idea to earn a bit of extra money to make rent.

After their first guests, Airbnb’s founders realized they were on to something bigger than a stopgap for rent. They faced rejection plenty of times — and created their own version of Obama O’s cereal — but the three founders of Airbnb have built a big business in the past nine years.

Here’s how they turned their idea to rent out an air mattress into a business that has the hotel industry running scared.

This post has been updated from an earlier version written by Biz Carson.


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