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March 15, 2017

What is AirBnB?

The company that has become a flag for digital disruption explained.

By Joao Lima

AirBnB is a site and mobile application where people can look for, rent and/or list properties for accommodation, be it for a holiday, business trip or another end.

With only eight years under its belt, AirBnB has become the world’s largest hotel chain without owning a single bedroom.

The website has now more than two million listings in over 34,000 cities across 191 countries. The number of ‘guests’ using the service has reached over 60 million in early 2016.

The type of properties listed on the portal go from rooms, to entire flats, villas and even castles. In fact, there are more than 1,400 castles listed on AirBnB.

Based in San Francisco, the company is headed by New Yorker CEO Brian Chesky, also co-founder of the company.

The name AirBnB comes from “Airbed and Breakfast”, and this shows how the idea for the company was born.

Chesky, originally an industrial designer, became a flat mate of AirBnB’s current CPO and also co-founder Joe Gebbia in 2007 in San Francisco.

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How did AirBnB start out?

That same year, the Industrial Designers Society of America hosted a conference in the city. The vas majority of hotels were fully book and Chesky and Gebbie were also struggling to pay their rent. The solution? They rented their apartment.

Chesky and Gebbie bought three air mattresses and rapidly found three people to stay with them while the conference was in town. They labeled the idea as “Airbed and Breakfast”, as they also offered home made breakfast to guests. In 2008 they launched airbedandbreakfast.com. The website would later be shortened to airbnb.com.

From an investment that might have been less than $200, Chesky and Gebbie have created a company that is today valued at over $25bn.

The company makes its money though service fees to hosts and guests. The official revenues have never been disclosed, however, Fortune magazine has reported that AirBnB is expecting its annual revenue to be $10bn by 2020. In 2013, revenue is estimated to have been $250m.

According to Statista, in New York City alone, AirBnB generated an estimated revenue of $451m in 2015. By 2018, that value is expected to reach $805m.

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