The Airbnb Story

The Airbnb Story

How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted An Industry, Made Billions... and Created Plenty of Controversy

Book - 2017
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A thorough and objective profile of this groundbreaking and unusual company covers its founders, meteoric rise, nagging troubles, and global popularity.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ©2017.
ISBN: 9780544952669
Characteristics: xx 236 pages ;,24 cm


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Apr 24, 2017

This book was so poorly written that I could tell it would be hard to read right from page 1. I skimmed the first few chapters and then gave up - it was that badly written!

Mar 05, 2017

This is a quick and easy read, and for those who aren't intimately familiar with the company, gives a reasonably thorough overview of the now-legendary beginnings through to the present situation and expansion.

Full disclosure: I worked for Airbnb as a remote employee based in Portland for almost 4 years from 2012-2016, so the only information in the book new to me was about things that had happened from the summer of 2016 onwards.

When I tweeted to the author after finishing it, I noted that it was very Founder- and SF-heavy. She replied that with a short deadline, she'd needed to focus quite specifically, but she'd wanted to come up to Portland and write more about the different branches, offices, etc. She finished the tweet with a hashtag of 'sequel.' To that I replied that given how many roles I'd had, I may very well write an insider's view of the company, much more in the vein of Dan Lyons' "Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble."

I skimmed much of the Learning to Lead chapter about Chesky, just because I've heard it all before, multiple times. For me as a former Aircorps employee, the only new parts in the book were finding out about something called the Airbnb Friendly Buildings Program. I have no idea if that is successful and whether or not it will ever move beyond the pilot phase. The other was reading about a Trust & Safety case that happened last summer that was tragicomic in mishandling. I can only assume that somehow the case didn't actually get to T&S in a timely manner since the colleagues I worked with wouldn't have sent the same non-answer multiple times to this beleaguered host.

In short, if you don't know much about Airbnb, who the founders are and their roles as they've changed, this book will fill you in. It covers the highs and lows, the missteps and where they want to go with what they see as Airbnb 2.0 with the focus on Experiences. What it doesn't cover is the experiences of any employees that are anything less than at the executive level, and I found that sorely lacking as customer support is really the lifeblood of the company. Yes, there are loads of engineers and they're very important too, but nobody calls and talks to an engineer. To me the title of this book should instead be "The Founders of Airbnb," since that's truly the focus.

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