A company’s annual report is a go-to reference when sizing up a company’s health and prospects. All those facts and figures arranged in black-and-white tables also make up the perfect cure for insomnia. Why do corporate documents have to be so boring? They don’t, as the info-data genius Nick Felton revealed in 2005, when he began issuing his own highly personalized form of annual reports chock full of biographical details presented with design gusto. (You may recall that Felton is also responsible for inspiring Facebook’s new Timeline format.) It took a few years, but companies are finally catching on to the idea of leavening snooze-inducing data with exciting colorful graphics and easy-to-read figures.
The latest to jump on the Felton bandwagon: Airbnb, which comprises a global network of local renters providing alternates to pricey hotel rooms. The big news here—rendered in eye-catching red—is that the three-year-old company is celebrating its 5 millionth nightly booking (4 million of which were made in the last year alone). That meteoric growth has a lot to do with its global expansion: 75% of its business now involves an international guest, host, or both—a fine argument for opening six new offices in major international cities by March 2012.
That’s all well and good from a business perspective, but Airbnb also spotlights the personal stories of their hosts, who have used their rental proceeds to cover everything from their children’s college tuition and helping their parents retire to bagging their corporate jobs to chase their pie-in-the-sky dreams. Those narratives go straight to the heart of the new sharing economy, which, rather than producing things we don’t really need, emphasizes the value of the stuff we already have.Kelli Anderson]