People-First Capitalism

This post is by Reid Hoffman from Reid Hoffman

When COVID-19 upended the travel industry last year, Airbnb was among its earliest victims, losing 80% of their business in the first two months of the pandemic. Such a blow would leave any CEO reeling, if not prove fatal to the company as a whole.

While many travel industry leaders chose to “go dark,” as Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky put it,  while they decided how to navigate next steps, Chesky took a different approach: He got candid.

“The biggest risk [for] the company is your stakeholders don’t trust you — not that you’ll say the wrong thing or get sued, but [that] people don’t trust you,” Chesky says. “[In a crisis], it’s really about being totally as transparent as you can be, trying to be incredibly compassionate, speaking from the heart.”

Chesky joined Greylock partner Reid Hoffman (who recently reflected on Airbnb’s 2010 Series A) for our Iconversations speaker series to talk about how he guided Airbnb from an 80% loss to a record-breaking IPO by the end of 2020, why Silicon Valley needs to redefine how it measures growth, how Chesky’s design background informs Airbnb’s business strategy and, ultimately, the importance of putting people first.

“Conventional wisdom says, ‘Don’t get too close, don’t get emotionally attached.’ Because if you do, it’s going to skew your decision making,” says Chesky. “I always saw it as the opposite.”

You can listen to the conversation on the Greymatter podcast here.

Greylock Partners · Brian Chesky | People-First Capitalism

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