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Design 50

Dynamic Duos: Airbnb's Brian Chesky And Joe Gebbia On Design Running The Boardroom

The epitome of a designer-founded startup, the fast-growing Airbnb has found creative solutions to its inevitable growing pains.

Brian Chesky, CEO
Joe Gebbia, Chief Product Officer

Brian Chesky, CEO
Joe Gebbia, Chief Product Officer

Gebbia: Brian and I started Airbnb by solving a problem through design. We couldn’t afford the rent, so we opened up our home for guests to stay with us.

Chesky: From conference rooms modeled after listings to storyboarding the user experience, design has a voice in everything—even in how a new employee starts their first day.

Gebbia: We encourage employees to ship new features on day one, which immediately encourages them to come up with something creative and different. One new designer decided to change the icon you used to favorite a listing from a star to a heart. This little change increased engagement by over 30% and inspired a new product: Wish Lists. 

Chesky: At RISD [the Rhode Island School of Design] they asked us, "How do you get design in the boardroom?" And I always thought, "What if design ran the boardroom?"

Read more about Airbnb

Read more pairings from Fast Company's 10th Annual Innovation By Design issue:

[Photo by Aya Brackett]

A version of this article appeared in the October 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.

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