Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia announced today that he is stepping down from the company he helped launch a decade ago. In a letter to employees published on Airbnb’s corporate blog, Gebbia said he would remain on the board of directors but transition to an advisory role, giving co-founders Brian Chesky and Nathan Blecherczyk “the roadmap, future ideas and [Airbnb’s] Creative Culture.”
Gebbia was previously chairman of Samara, Airbnb’s design studio, and Airbnb.org, the company’s nonprofit foundation.
“The primary reason for this transition is that this is the only company I’ve ever helped build, and my brain is exploding with more ideas to bring to the world,” Gebbia wrote. “My first new venture is a startup called Parenthood, where I will play the role of a father. Others involve complementary products to Airbnb, documentary filmmaking and various philanthropic initiatives. I look forward to sharing more about them with you soon.”
Gebbia co-launched Airbnb in 2008 with Chesky’s roommate and former classmate at the Rhode Island School of Design in San Francisco. Originally called “AirBed & Breakfast”, the startup was invited by Paul Graham to join the Y Combinator winter 2009 cohort, which provides funding that co-founders use to promote new services. In March 2009, the company shortened its name to “Airbnb” and expanded from air beds and shared spaces to properties including entire homes, apartments and private rooms.
Gebbia took the company to its first year of profitability — 2016 — and launched services including the IPO and Airbnb Experiences and Airbnb Plus, a collection of homes vetted for service quality. He co-led Airbnb through a battle with policymakers over the legality of Airbnb listings at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and a sharp decline in business.
Gebbia was a major contributor to Airbnb’s early design, for example, brainstorming the idea of offering free professional photography services to Airbnb hosts from a community of freelancers. he too Led the founding of Airbnb.org in 2020, which enables Airbnb hosts to house people in times of crisis — a $5 million donation personally helped kick-start the effort.
As of November 2021, Gebia’s net worth was estimated at $11.4 billion. She helms several side projects, including investments in the women-founded venture capital fund The Helm and the San Antonio Spurs Investor Group, and executive producing documentary films on various topics. Gebbia is also an investor in Nebia, a startup developing an eco-friendly shower system.