In 2004, Brian Chesky moved to Los Angeles to work as an industrial designer with a small firm. Three years later he quit, packed up his car, and drove to San Francisco to move in with a college friend who had also recently quit his job. The immediate challenge? “How the hell were we going to make rent?”
The new, jobless roommates noted that in two weeks the 2007 Industrial Design Society of America conference was being held in San Francisco and that hotel rooms would be scarce. So Chesky and his roommates found three air mattresses and turned their apartment into an “air bed and breakfast.”
Within days, Airbnb was a rudimentary website that booked three guests: a 35-year-old woman, a 30-year-old from India, and a 45-year-old father of five, each paying about $70 a night for several nights. That month’s rent problem was solved. But Chesky and his roommates were on to something bigger.