Airbnb brings on American Express CEO to board of directors

Airbnb has appointed Kenneth I. Chenault, the outgoing CEO of American Express, to its board of directors. The announcement comes one week after Facebook appointed Chenault to its board of directors.

“As the CEO of American Express, Ken has built one of the most successful trust-based companies in the world,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky wrote in an open letter today. “It is a company that has endured and innovated for nearly 168 years. Ken and I spent time talking about the 21st-century model and in particular the role of trust as the infrastructure for such a model. Ken also believes deeply that, now more than ever, companies need to stand for values, character, and competence.”

Chenault will be the first non-affiliated independent board member at Airbnb and the first black board member at Airbnb. He also is the first and only black board member for Facebook.

Chesky added, “As [Chenault] says, ‘I think corporations exist because society allows us to exist. Corporations are not entitled to exist. So I think we have a responsibility and an obligation to help improve society.’ ”

Airbnb seems to be gearing up for an IPO. On February 22, Chesky said Airbnb will announce its next chapter “to empower a host-led world with some substantial improvements to our service that set us up for an infinite time horizon.”

As part of Chesky’s vision for Airbnb to be a company that survives “to see the next century,” Chesky said Airbnb will release its first annual stakeholder report in March.