Airbnb CEO Says His $75 Billion Company Was Rejected By Investors – Until A $40 Box Of Cereal Turned Things Around

Airbnb has revolutionized travel for individuals looking for unique experiences and adventures on vacation or weekend trips. The company was founded in 2008 by Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk. In its early days, Airbnb struggled to secure investments as investors were skeptical about the concept of strangers staying in each other’s homes.

To overcome this obstacle, the trio had to be creative. During the Republican and Democratic national conventions, demand for their “Air Bed-and-Breakfast” services skyrocketed. But after the events ended, demand decreased, prompting the founders to come up with a new plan. They designed and sold cereal boxes featuring presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain and earned around $30,000, which they used to fund Airbnb’s operations.

When they pitched Airbnb to Paul Graham, founder of startup accelerator Y Combinator, and his partners, Graham was initially unconvinced. However, when he saw the custom-made cereal box, he was intrigued. He told the trio, “Well if you can convince people to pay $40 for $4 boxes of cereal, maybe, just maybe, you can convince strangers to live with each other.”

Airbnb won a spot in Y Combinator’s startup program and received $20,000 in exchange for a 6% share in the company.

Today, Airbnb is worth over $75 billion and has over 6.6 million active listings in 100,000 cities worldwide. The company faced challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people stayed home and travel came to a halt. Airbnb was forced to lay off 25% of its staff and suspend activities outside its core short-term rental business. However, the company rebounded and went public in December 2020 with a $100 billion valuation, marking the largest IPO of that year.

Despite criticism over illegal listings, Airbnb has continued to thrive, particularly as more people have started working remotely. The company’s success can be attributed to its founders’ resilience and creativity in the early days and their ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

With its innovative business model and growing demand for unique travel experiences, Airbnb is poised to continue redefining the travel industry for years to come.

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