Cover Image: The Airbnb Story

The Airbnb Story

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Member Reviews

An interesting book explaining how Airbnb came about and the difficulties they have faced.  In some ways good to know that it wasn't just an easy ride and that they have teething problems at the start of the business to build it up to the successful company that it is today
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started off interesting but then really started to drag. I put this down a few times. I also didn't find it told me anything new, it's more of a collection of other peoples interviews and findings, which is great if you want to digest all this collated info, not so great if you've already read some of it.
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This is a fascinating insight into the story of how Airbnb was created and goes into some of the challenges that the company has faced in its journey so far.
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I read business books and blogs, so was keen to read this one - to see what hurdles the three Airbnb founders encountered, how their product revolutionised the travel industry, and what impact their product has had on individuals and communities. Leigh Gallagher's The Airbnb Story does address bits of the first two but it's very much a company manual, even the criticism is framed positively. The three founders are impressive individuals and have taken huge steps to learn the necessary skills to promote and scale their business, this part of the book was well done and interesting, but their technology is causing huge upsets in communities already struggling with a lack of affordable housing and tourist invasions. Instead of having a balanced view on this and appreciating that those people being impacted do have rights too, Leigh pretty much says times-are-a-changin, so get onboard and stop your whinging. 

Bits did drag, especially when listing the various hosts and what they do or did, but those sections are easily skimmable. On the whole, an interesting read.

Book supplied by Netgalley for an honest review.
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Although personally I never used AirBnB, I am following this new travel phenomenon from outside, either through the stories of people using it regularly or from the lessons learned of those offering rooms to rent through the platform. With a serious background in the start-up industry, and a serious research work, this book documents the history of a revolutionary idea. Practically, AirBnB challenges the classical accomodation and travel habits, by offering a cheaper way to live and discover a city. 
I've particularly found interesting the ways in which the company coped with various dysfunctionalities and external pressures and how impredictable are the next steps, as well as the focus on detail and desire to improve and have a better relationship with hosts.
An interesting book to read as it tells a story about the new business and economic realities of our century.
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The AirBnB story was an interesting read, but I found the focus on business practices less interesting than the human stories, so found I was losing interest towards the end.  The author clearly had access to many, if not all of the key people involved, and I found the background to the founding of AirBnB, as well as the overview of their early years engaging.  I think this would be a great read for anyone interested in business, but the business details made it a bit too dry for me to re-read.
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It is not so long ago that a couple of friends sowed the seeds for what would become a major disruptive element and force within the global accommodations industry – Airbnb. Less than one decade later this start-up has won a lot of friends and plaudits, whilst attracting a fair-few enemies and detractors too.

This is a fascinating look at a company that has, like it or not, changed travel for a large section of the travelling public. Even if Airbnb was no more, it is unlikely that the genie could go back in the bottle and the “old norms” return. A lot is crammed into a relatively compact, informative book.

The author has done a good job in remaining objective and focussed, it did not read like a hagiography and the writing style was engaging and accessible.

Even if you have no intention in becoming an Airbnb customer (or supplier), reading this book will still give a lot of great information about business development, start-ups, culture and more. A great lightweight read, with a heavy, quality overlay.

The Airbnb Story, written by Leigh Gallagher and published by Penguin/Random House. ISBN 9780753545584. YYYYY
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There's an incredible amount of research gone into this book with plenty of data, statistics, quotes, details of local laws, etc. Personally I found it all made for a dull story wtih too much minutia. I enjoyed the chapters about people's personal experience of renting out their homes but most were dramatically bad so it made me wonder why people do it. 

There was a lot of detail about the company's conflict in big cities like New York where renting out your home, or part if it, seems to be in conflict with many local laws. I found all the legal stuff very tedious, not helped by the fact I am not a US citizen so the many different laws and regulations meant nothing, nor the politians and local people in government that were quoted.

It took me weeks to read and even then I have skimmed much of it.
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This sits comfortably in the business biography section. It's an interesting, not too dry, read focusing, as you would expect, on the founders backgrounds, concept and evolution. 

I can't believe I never stopped to think about the rather odd name to realise that it reflects the original business concept of "air bed and breakfast"

Obviously this doesn't have the scandal of some of some of the banking crisis books, of the clout of Warren Buffett, but it earns a place on the shelf for the unique success story it tells.
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Interesting but you'd need a real fascination with the subject to stick it out for the whole journey
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I always love reading successful stories of global company, and this is one of those book.  Have you used Airbnb - if you have you'll enjoy it more. Really love this story and inspiring.
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The actual story behind AirBnB is over in the first few chapters. The rest of the book is about how they coped with everything else on the way, such as technical issues, problem customers, legal issues and pressure from hotel chains. Some of this is interesting, but not a whole book of it. I gave up reading after the endless legislation issues just kept going on and on. Could have been a good read if they had kept the story flowing instead of breaking it apart like a textbook.
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I found the book to be very readable, which is always something that pushes a book for me. However, I found there were a few issues with the content that perhaps suggested it was pushed out in a bit of a hurry. For example, the coverage of the company IT guru Nathan Blecharczyk was pushed toward the end of the book, and was less generous in wordage when compared to the other two founders. This, to me, implies that perhaps the interview was done late in the day and at fairly short notice - meaning that maybe his buy-in wasn't 100% on the book concept (or, more likely, he was just too busy).

Additionally, one story that could have been included but wasn't revolved around Airbnb squatters - a story which made significant headlines some years ago. While some negative stories were looked at, such as battles with local law makers and loose cannon guests, this was one that should have made the cut but didn't.

The company's concept of "belonging" seemed to not have been criticaly engaged with. As a result, the content seems to morph into something of a PR exercise for the company. This is something that happens in so many books and articles written on high profile brand concepts (be it Apple, Google, or any other Silicon Valley big company). While the company's detractors were looked at, I just didn't quite feel that there was enough balance there to make it an equitable one.

For those who have followed Airbnb in the news either intentionally or unintentionally, there will probably not be too much new stuff in here. The author does have some excellent interviews and good access, which certainly helps to give depth to a lot of the back story. If you're dying to read it, go for it and you'll be rewarded. If you've got another book that maybe you want to read first - go for that other one first.
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AirBnB has become and almost overnight success.  The three founders have created a multi-billion company and scaled it up based on them offering airbeds in San Francisco for a design conference, this is their story.  Except really its not a simple as that. This book startswith that beginning, and then explores how they have grown and the problems and successes along the way.  There is little business content in here, although I am sure it could be used for exemplar material in some entrepreneurship lessons.  Its written in a straight-forward and simple way that lays out the facts and is easy to read.  It gives some detail of some of the hosts, investors and travelers that use the site/app.

The thing about AirBnB though is that it really can divide people's opinions.  Some hosts are are almost religious about the company, some special interests are equally fervent in their opposition.  So its no surprise that this book occasionally doesn't come across as balanced as it should be and is an advocate for the company.  One of the unintentional consequences of reading this book though is to re-evaluate AirBnB.  The image of a plucky trio who are fighting the good fight for all is pretty much quashed as you hear of the corporate heavyweights involved.  They haven't just scaled up their tech, they have scaled up their personnel.

Its a fascinating read and a worthwhile one.
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As someone who appreciates  Air B n B, this was an interesting and enjoyable read. Not dry, not dusty, but got everything across in an amusing way.
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Success stories are always appealing. What we now know as Airbnb started in 2004 with Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, two broke industrial and graphic design school graduates. Later their befriended programmer Nathan Blecharczyk joined. The three worked out an idea to rent out air beds and breakfast to make some money. This was the conception of what became Airbnb, now valued at $30 billion and on the eve of entering China.

The boys had the luck of a perfect timing to meet investors. The unique selling points of their business model, two markets where demand and supply are facing each other, a powerful payment system, starting as the Craigslist for rooms, but quickly becoming a disruptive force in hospitality services without owning any of the homes or rooms that are rented out. Leigh Gallagher tells The Airbnb Story in chronological order, and shares from an abundance of background information, memoirs, and interviews. Not only Airbnb is covered, also its main competitors (e.g.,, and the differences in market approach, products and services offered and the outlook for the near future. Will the traditional hotel chains ultimately take over? Can market entrants or competitors somehow steal and copy the business model? And can Airbnb itself evolve into a successful multiproduct firm with spread risks to survive in the long run?

If Airbnb has disrupted hotels, travel, space, and trust, it's also disrupted conventional management theory. The company's rise is lacking corporate experience with the founders at their start. No MBA, but design school as a foundation. Learn from these three founding fathers of a real game-changer still in charge of this privately owned company. Media are normally running behind the facts: "Where everyone thinks Airbnb is today, is where we were two years ago." The same will apply to this book, updated to the very end of 2016. In 2 years the Airbnb story will have different twists and outcomes.
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Review can be found on my blog:
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For no clear reason, the word "rollicking" kept coming to mind as I read this - eventually, I realised why: the book rollicks every bit as much as Airbnb did in the early years, and it was hard to put it down for the first few chapters.  To be honest, though, it all seemed to slow down once the early, heady years moved on to consolidation and dealing with the headaches set up by places like New York; it all, somehow, seemed to become a bit more American-business-school in tone. Never mind, the pace began to pick up as Airbnb's new ideas were floated, and as a totally non-business reader with only a passing Airbnb experience, I felt it came back to a more accessible account.  As I put in my "note to the publisher", some graphics in place of the figures might have made the point about the explosive growth of Airbnb more dynamically, and some pictures (what do the magic trio look like?) might have humanised the story as much as the occasional quotes or anecdotes.   That said, it ought to be required reading for Airbnb guests - if only to let them see how much work and skill lies under that seamless booking experience.
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​Leigh does a fantastic job of telling the story of the sheer innovation and resilience Joe Gebbia, Brian Chesky and Nathan Blecharczyk had when airbnb was in seed form.

She doesn't tell this story as a fairytale with a happy ending. She goes the extra mile by fishing out details otherwise not known and expressing struggles that are either relatable or hard to fathom.

One key lesson that stood out for me was that a broad vision does not come in one sitting. Iterations are required to capture and bring visions to reality.

Rating: 4/5

Favourite quote: "We just showed up before everyone else and stayed after everyone else. We were more shameless than other people, and we were more curious."
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An interesting read.  A change from the usual kind of business book - more of a documentary of the story of Airbnb.

I got a bit lost in the middle it was quite repetitive at times and I am sure the story could have been done justice in far fewer words, but overall an good read.

I knew very little about Airbnb until recently, so it was interesting to see where it came from and that seemingly ordinary guys with little or no experience managed to take the business from nowhere to the huge phenomenon it is now.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review something a little different to my usual read.
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