Interview Transcript

How would you compare the community of eBay, in the early days, as compared to Airbnb today?

At eBay, the community was more product based. What was the transaction that took place, that brought people together? In that instance, it was a product and it was a common interest in collecting something, maybe just buying something, using a particular kind of make-up or whatever it was. At Airbnb, it’s about the experiences; it’s about that humankind piece that is a little bit different. It’s about what they were able to achieve. What was transformational about the travel experience that they had? I think that’s the difference.

At Airbnb, when you say community, do you focus more on the host, do you focus more on the guest or is it a mixture of both?

It’s generally a mixture of both. However, my observation would probably be, it’s more host based. The same could be said about eBay. When the eBay community would get together, sure, I might have purchases something that meant that I told stories about what I was able to find on eBay, but when the community would gather, it would predominantly be sellers. Similarly, I would say, from an Airbnb point of view, it’s predominantly the hosts. Quite often you see, hosts will organize themselves in cities, all around the world, and conduct events for themselves, where they will share ideas and share experiences. Similarly, when Airbnb has hosted events, globally, whether it be the Airbnb Open in Paris, in 2015, in LA the following year, in 2016, or smaller events that have taken place, all around the world, the focus is generally on hosting.

How do you see that evolving, given that Airbnb charge the guests more than the hosts. Whereas, eBay, they were, effectively, the customer?

Whilst I think it could evolve, it’s been interesting and it creates an opportunity for Airbnb, economically, because they haven’t yet charged the hosts or only do so from an experiences perspective and as they’ve evolved more into the traditional hospitality lines of the business. When the hosts turn up, they’re turning up because (a) it’s part of their livelihood and (b) they love to be a host and share their homes and do those sort of things and (c) for many, it’s a commercial enterprise and they might think differently about it. But in many instances, the hosts, they come together to share how being a host on Airbnb has positively impacted their lives and they want to come together and share that, as well as learn from others.

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