Brian Chesky didn’t know much about tech before starting Airbnb.
The 35-year-old CEO majored in industrial design in college and dabbled in hockey and bodybuilding in his 20s. But now, he’s grown an idea that stemmed from overbooked hotels into a multibillion-dollar startup — and has become one of Silicon Valley’s key players in the process.
Here’s how the upstate New York native became one of the richest young tech founders in America.
Chesky's high school yearbook quote was 'I'm sure I'll amount to nothing.' He thought it was funny -- his dad didn't.
In his early 20s, Chesky was a competitive bodybuilder. He's described as still having '16-inch biceps.'
In a Fast Company profile from 2014, Chesky is described as an imposing figure: 'A former hockey player and bodybuilder with 16-inch biceps, the CEO commands attention. His boomerang grin and slant nose work to sharply focus his attention on you. Rather than turn his head toward me, he physically picks up his chair and pivots it directly so we're eye to eye.'
But shortly thereafter, he moved to San Francisco with Gebbia. When a design conference came to town in 2007 resulting in all the hotels being sold out, Gebbia pitched Chesky the idea to rent out space for those who couldn't find a place to stay.
Along with a third cofounder, Nathan Blecharczyk, Gebbia and Chesky started what was at the time called Airbedandbreakfast.com.
Since then, Airbnb has not only shortened its name, but has expanded to more than 34,000 cities and as of 2016, had been used by more than 60 million guests. The company is currently the second-highest valued startup in the U.S. at $31 billion.
In 2015, Chesky was named to the Time 100 as one of the most influential people alive. Apple design chief Jony Ive wrote at the time that Chesky's 'audacity is fabulous.'
Now 35, Chesky owns a 13% stake in Airbnb and his personal net worth is $3.8 billion, landing him at #8 on the list of the world's wealthiest entrepreneurs under 40, according to Forbes.
All three of Airbnb's founders have publicly pledged to donate more than 50% of their wealth to the Giving Pledge, a philanthropic initiative started by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates.
Earlier this year, Chesky and Patel, who is Indian by descent, visited Delhi together on what Chesky called the Airbnb Tour 2017.
Airbnb is still a privately-held startup, but Chesky hasn't ruled out taking the company public in the future, perhaps in another year. 'We certainly haven't ruled any event out,' he told his hometown paper in June.
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