Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia today announced he’s stepping down from his position at the company he helped launch more than a decade ago. In a letter to employees also published to Airbnb’s corporate blog, Gebbia said he will remain on the board of directors but transition to an advisory role, supporting co-founders Brian Chesky and Nathan Blecharczyk on “the roadmap, future concepts, and [Airbnb’s] creative culture.”
Gebbia was previously the chairman of Samara, Airbnb’s design studio, and of Airbnb.org, the company’s nonprofit foundation.
“The primary reason for this transition is that this is the only company I’ve ever helped build, and my brain is bursting with more ideas to bring to the world,” Gebbia wrote. “My first new venture is a startup called parenthood, at which I’ll be taking on the role of Dad. The others involve a complementary product to Airbnb, documentary filmmaking, and various philanthropic initiatives. I’m looking forward to sharing more about these with you soon.”
Gebbia co-launched Airbnb alongside Chesky, his roommate and former schoolmate at the Rhode Island School of Design, in San Francisco back in 2008. Originally called “AirBed & Breakfast,” the startup was invited by Paul Graham to join the 2009 Y Combinator winter cohort, which provided funding that the co-founders used to promote the fledgling service. In March 2009, the company shortened its name to “Airbnb” and expanded from air beds and shared spaces to properties including entire homes, apartments and private rooms.
Gebbia saw the company through its first year of profitability — 2016 — and IPO and the launch of services including Airbnb Experiences and Airbnb Plus, a collection of homes vetted for quality of services. He co-led Airbnb through its down moments, too, like battles with policymakers over the legality of Airbnb listings and a steep decline in business at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gebbia was a major contributor to Airbnb’s early design, for example brainstorming the idea of offering free professional photography services to Airbnb hosts from a community of freelancers. He also spearheaded the founding of Airbnb.org in 2020, which enables hosts on Airbnb to house people in times of crises — personally donating $5 million to help kick off the fund’s efforts.
As of November 2021, Gebbia’s net worth was estimated at $11.4 billion. He maintains several side projects, including investing at female-founded venture capital fund The Helm and the San Antonio Spurs investor group and executive producing documentaries films on a range of topics. Gebbia is also an investor in Nebia, a startup developing an environmentally-friendly shower system.