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Airbnb’s Brian Chesky: “We died and were reborn.”

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Airbnb’s Brian Chesky: “We died and were reborn.”

Masters of Scale Podcast: Rapid Response episode


5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky says that what you do in the worst of times truly tests your values.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Eye Opening
  • Bold


Early in 2020, Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky came back from vacation thinking his company was prospering; he was preparing to take it public. Then, over the course of two chaotic months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company’s revenue dropped 80%. People thought Airbnb was over. But Chesky – in this discussion on Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale podcast – says he recognized that a crisis of this magnitude was an opportunity to step up and demonstrate the company’s values. Not only did Airbnb survive, but 2020’s dark times proved defining and successful. Airbnb now has a valuation of more than $100 billion.


Early in 2020, Airbnb’s revenues went down by 80%, and its future was in question.

Early in 2020, when Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky came home from vacation, the business seemed to be humming along and an Initial Public Offering (IPO) was on the horizon. And then, over the course of two months, Airbnb’s revenues crashed by 80% as the coronavirus pandemic brought travel to a halt. At that point, people predicted the company would go under.

After the crisis’s initial onslaught, the board met amid a grim atmosphere. The company’s size and scale were dropping for the first time, which was unusual for a successful tech start-up. Normally such firms grow every year. At that point, an Airbnb board member who had navigated his company through the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and through the 2008 recession told Chesky to regard a crisis as a defining moment.

In May 2020, CEO Brian Chesky laid off 25% of Airbnb’s employees.

The weeks following the board meeting ...

About the Podcast

Brian Chesky is co-founder and CEO of Airbnb. Reid Hoffman, host of the Masters of Scale podcast, is co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, a venture capitalist and an author.

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