Since the very beginning, we wanted to create an experience for our guests: more than just a place to sleep. We wanted to cook breakfast in the morning; we wanted to provide a subway map for our guests. Pick them up from the airport.
Starting a company in San Francisco when we did usually meant it was destined to be a data-driven tech company. But that didn't seem to fully encompass what we wanted with Airbnb. When we tried looking through a tech lens, it didn't work. The humanity was missing.
We built a basic website, and Air Bed and Breakfast was born. Three lucky guests got to stay on a $20 airbed on the hardwood floor. But they loved it. And so did we. We took them on adventures around the city.
From natural disasters to the refugee crises, the impact we can have as individuals might seem limited. But as many of our hosts know, sharing your home for even a few nights can make a tremendous difference in someone's life.
It's about more than making money; it's about connecting people in countries all around the world. Our social mission is to get people meeting each other, and we need people who align with that purpose.
I have the privilege of working with our in-house design studio, called Samara, and our humanitarian team, called Human. Samara is thinking about the future of Airbnb, and Human is working on ways to leverage our platform outside the cause of day-to-day business.
Of course Airbnb made mistakes the first year! Some came from our own preconceptions. When we started, we designed our interface for ourselves, Internet-savvy twentysomethings. We never considered the role of good eyesight in our interface - font size, vernacular; it all matters.
We have seen things in the twentieth century like the ATM machine, the VCR, and even the car. The electric car was invented in 1920, and here we, 100 years later, it is only now becoming an actual thing. So it doesn't surprise me that new ideas are met with a lot of questions.
Given Miami's unique role in Airbnb's roots, I'm particularly proud of how South Floridians have embraced home sharing as an opportunity to earn supplemental income and catalyze economic development in their communities.
We do believe in an inside-out culture. If we hold our hosts and guests to an expectation of acceptance and belonging, it has to start within our company. Otherwise, how on earth do we have the credibility to hold them accountable if we're not doing it to ourselves?