When it comes to the best apps that you can download for iOS or Android devices, there are a few apps that will come to most people’s minds, and one of those great apps is Airbnb. This app or website is an online marketplace where people can easily find listings for hotel accommodations, vacation rentals, and other types of rentals related to looking for a place to stay beside your home. Airbnb started out as a rental listing website, but they eventually developed an app so people can get easier access to the online marketplace.
What’s surprising about Airbnb is that it is a relatively young company, but it has already gained so much success in just 20 years of service. What made Airbnb so successful? We will find out as we dive into the brief history and evolution of Airbnb.
Origins of Airbnb
Before Airbnb came to be, founders Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky first moved to San Francisco in October 2007, and in the house they moved in, they came up with an idea to put an air mattress in their living room so that they can turn it into a bed and breakfast, which is a term used to describe renting accommodations in houses or apartments that work similarly to hotels. It is through this idea that they eventually brainstormed about creating a website dedicated to helping people find air beds and shared spaces online.
A few months later, in February 2008, Chesky and Gebbia decided to hire Nathan Blecharczyk, who is also Chesky’s former roommate, as the Chief Technology Officer for their company to get the website up and running. The team named the company “AirBed & Breakfast,” and this would soon be shortened to “Airbnb.” The website under the domain “Airbednbreakfast.com” was officially launched on August 11, 2008, although their business did not gain immediate success, as they were struggling in getting the spotlight for the oversaturated market. In order to get enough funding to continue their business, the owners of AirBed & Breakfast had to sell cereal boxes in different conventions around the United States, including the Democratic National Convention in November 2008, where they sold cereal boxes to Barack Obama.
Name Change and Increase in Users
To get more knowledge in how to run a website-focused business, AirBed & Breakfast sought the help of Paul Graham, a computer programmer that invited the founders of Airbnb to a winter training seminar in his startup incubator called Y Combinator in January 2009. In exchange for the training, Y Combinator would get a small interest in the company. The partnership between the two was proven to be successful, as the company was able to gain 10,000 users and 2,500 listings in just three months from January to March 2009.
It was also in March 2009 when the founders decided to change the name of the company to “Airbnb,” as it is simpler, can easily be memorized by customers, and is much more searchable on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. In addition, Airbnb has also expanded its business after the name change, with the website now offering listings for apartments, condominiums, private rooms, and even entire houses.
Increase in Investors and Expansions
By 2011, Airbnb had received funding from different investors, including General Catalyst Partners, Digital Sky Technologies, talent manager Guy Oseary, and famous actor Ashton Kutcher. Because of the fundings, Airbnb was able to build its first international office in London, which would expand its reach globally.
In the next year, Airbnb then started opening offices in different countries around Europe and South America. Furthermore, the company then expanded its services to Thailand and Indonesia in hopes that they can tap the Asian market. They would then build an office in Singapore and in Sydney, Australia, to increase their efforts of providing quality service to Southeast Asia and Oceania.
Airbnb redesigned its website, mobile app, and logo in July 2014, thus providing a simpler layout that would make it much easier for users to browse through the website and app. The new logo called the “Bélo” is supposed to represent the connection that Airbnb provides between renters and their customers. The logo also looks like an upside-down heart that symbolizes the love and care that the company offers for its users in bringing top-quality service while also showing the letter “A” found in the company’s name.
Struggles During the Pandemic
During the middle months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Airbnb struggled to book rentals for customers, as people were not using the services since they are just at home and are unable to go on vacations. Because of the problems that are facing in the pandemic, Airbnb delayed their initial public offering, which would have allowed them to be a public company at the beginning of 2020.
By May of the same year, Brian Chesky announced that they would lay off about 1,900 employees in order to lower the expenses of the company. These 1,900 are approximately 25% of their workforce globally. Fortunately, Airbnb was able to survive by officially becoming a public company on December 10, 2020, as the change enabled the company to raise $3.5 billion from public investments.
Despite struggling in 2020 and 2021 due to the lower number of people looking for hotel accommodations, apartment stays, and house rentals around the world, Airbnb still manages to stay alive through initial public offering and funding from their trusted investors. By the end of the pandemic, many business experts believe that Airbnb would experience another boom in revenue, as many people would be excited to finally go on a vacation after the pandemic is over.