February 12th, 2017

REVIEW – The Airbnb Story by Leigh Gallagher

The Airbnb StoryI love reading books that are both interesting and give me some useful business knowhow.

Not being a user of Airbnb (yet) but familiar with its staggering growth, I wanted the chance to get the inside story, warts and all.

Synopsis on Goodreads:

This is the remarkable behind-the-scenes story of the creation and growth of Airbnb, the online lodging platform that has become, in under a decade, the largest provider of accommodations in the world. At first just the wacky idea of cofounders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb has disrupted the $500 billion hotel industry, and its $30 billion valuation is now larger than that of Hilton and close to that of Marriott.

Airbnb is beloved by the millions of members in its “host” community and the travelers they shelter every night. And yet, even as the company has blazed such an unexpected path, this is the first book solely dedicated to the phenomenon of Airbnb.

On the whole I really enjoyed this book. It was insightful and you get some really in-depth character profiles of the three founders. My favourite takeaway from the book is that the CEO, Brian Chesky, who had no previous business experience, learnt so quickly by absorbing as much information from experienced leaders as he could. He would be open about not knowing something, seek out people who have the skills he wants, and interrogate them to get the information he wants. As someone who often feels uneasy about admitting I don’t know something this was a fantastic eyeopener.

There are two reasons I didn’t rate this book higher:

  1. It was very long-winded. The book felt it should have finished about 50 pages earlier but it just kept going. Towards the end it did feel like the author was just trying to meet a word count, making sentences and paragraphs a lot longer than they needed to be. The one thing that most often causes me to drop down ratings is when books drag on too much towards the end.
  2. Most of the time it felt like one big advertisement for Airbnb. I understand that working closely with the founders you’d be fairly limited in what you can say if you want them to approve the book – but I did feel like I could have just been reading Airbnb’s website at times.

Overall this is is a short (around 250 pages), well-written insight into Airbnb’s story. If you’re interested in getting insights from successful businesses then I do recommend this – its positives outweigh its flaws.

Verdict: 3/5!

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