Author Leigh Gallagher Shares Airbnb’s Unlikely Success Story

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Business journalist Leigh Gallagher stopped by the WCBS studios to discuss her book, “The Airbnb Story.”

Gallagher, the Assistant Managing Editor of Fortune magazine, tells Ray Hoffman there was a time people thought Airbnb “was a terrible idea.”

“I don’t think in a generation has there been as unlikely a success as Airbnb,” she says. 

When the company first came about, the hospitality industry had become very commercialized and commodified, and some people were seeking a more “authentic” experience.

Two of the founders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, met in college and once worked on a project together.

“What that told them was that when the two of them get together, their ideas are bigger than everyone else’s,” Gallagher says.

After college, they moved to San Francisco where they were struggling to pay their rent. There was a big design conference in the city, so Gallagher says they said “Why don’t we rent out space in our apartment?”

They went on to launch Airbnb several times across the country.

“If no one notices, just do it again,” Gallagher recalls them saying.

Thanks to their press savviness, their backgrounds in design and some advice from successful business leaders (and the folks at Y Combinator) they eventually struck gold.

Now, Chesky, Gebbia and their partner Nathan Blecharczyk, have introduced “Airbnb Trips,” where people host experiences, and they hope to create the world’s first community super brand.

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