• Chelsea Rustrum

Coworking at Airbnb Headquarters for the Day

Updated: Feb 21

FYI: This was written more than a week ago while @airbnb.

What an interesting space. I’m at @airbnb headquarters at the moment.

How’d I wind up coworking @airbnb? Somehow I seem to end up in strange scenarios all the time.

Here’s how.

I posted my place on @airbnb to host guests and then did a search to make sure I was showing up under the right price point. And then boom! A random listing by @bchesky advertising coworking at AirBnb.com headquarters for $20 a day (+$2 in fees). Huh, why not? I’ve been a big fan/groupie of the coworking movement and an @airbnb lover since I learned about them.

Here’s what the @airbnb listing says:

If you aspire to work for a startup, and want to see what it’s like from the inside, then come join us for the day at the headquarters of Airbnb, in the South of Market district of San Francisco. You will have your very own private office on the main floor, next to the marketing and customer support departments. Our office has about 30 people work out of it. To apply: Preference will be given to people in the Y-Combinator network, or part of the technology or startup community. Additionally, I will need to carefully screen each person that we allow at HQ, so please have a complete profile, and send a message along with your reservation.

Here’s my experience:

I’m the very first coworker to ever work out @airbnb. I just met @bchesky and @jgebbia just tweeted that he’s going to stop by soon. This is sort of surreal. Even though I’m my own entrepreneurial brainforce, meeting geekstars from the inside of @airbnb is really cool.

The vibe here is amazing. Caitlin, who works with the general office manager Kelly gave me a thorough tour, complete with access to the kitchen and notice of a catered lunch in a few minutes at 12 noon. The space is light and airy, high ceilings, happy young people, lots of focus, trendy, informal, yet collaborative in terms of space with a startupy, gargage feel.

I guess they are moving to a new space really soon. The plan is to increase the team size from the now 30 to over 150 in the NEXT YEAR! I hope they grow smart and make the new space feel as collaborative as their current space. Seems to be hard to grow that fast without creating a cliquey and otherwise disjointed team.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the issue and resolve of underutilized space. I think it’s an interesting subject because it involves an aspect of community as well as economics. My sense is that Brian originally listed the Map Room (where I spent the day @airbnb coworking) to test out the idea of including office space as a vertical of @airbnb.

Now, I think it’s more than that. I think they are trying to list uncommon spaces to see what the demand/experience is like. Plus, what a great recruiting tool?! Since I’ve been chatting with different team members at lunch and in the kitchen, I can see how easy it would be to immediately suss out whether or not someone is a cultural fit.

On my drive over here it struck me that @airbnb is in a perfect position to take on different verticals, such as office space. There’s a huge opportunity at the moment and it’s only going to get bigger. Plenty of companies have an extra desk or extra space that they could rent if they had the proper platform to do it. With the interface and user base of @airbnb being based on space with the tenants of mobility and community, supported by reviews.

After doing a little research, I learned that @airbnb plans to become the eBay of underutilized space. @airbnb just booked their 1 millionth night and in terms of scope, they are bigger than any hotel in the world. Just imagine what will happen in the next 20 years!?!

With 7.8 million in their latest Series A round, headed by Sequoia they are on pace to expand to the other markets and quickly.

I’m about to be introduced to an audience of 30 brains that are @airbnb. Kelly just asked me a bunch of questions and she’s going to talk about 3 interesting facts about me. Yowza. That’s intimidating. I’m not sure if I have three interesting facts. I shot the question back at her to get a better idea.

No biggie: 1.) I started a company when I was 14. 2.) I spent last summer on solo trip through Europe meeting other couchsurfers, staying in hostels and sharing adventures. 3.) I’m involved in producing a Couchsurfing Documentary. Wait, there’s a fourth. 4.) I’m working with @geeosh to change the way that startups are formed with Startup Abroad.

Lunch was good. Catered chicken sandwiches, salad and treats. The team was really nice and they all seem to have saucer eyes when they talk about their passion for travel. Since I got there a little late, no one got my facts. Ooops! It’s ok, I still got a short introduction. I don’t think Caitlin wanted to interrupt the conversation. Phew, dodged that bullet. It’s so damn hard to be interesting these days.

Now, it’s later in the day and I’ve been listening to Brian talk to a potential team member in the office next door for the last 30 minutes. His level of excitement and enthusiasm for the size of the market as well as the people they are serving is absolutely, ridiculously contagious.

I have a lot of the same ideas that he’s relaying to her, it’s just nice to hear those ideas confirmed by someone who is actually living it in a strategic business sense. I’m not going to go into detail about what he’s saying because I assume it’s confidential.

I found out during lunch that Brian recently listed his Jeep on @airbnb. Since I’ve been having issues with parking tickets/towing (read: stupidity tax), I thought I’d try posting my Nissan Xterra for a car share. We’ll see what happens. Curious, right? I want to do a car share with someone where I can park my car in their driveway. The second option is to find someone that can rent my car on a weekly basis, returning it to me on the weekends. That’s really when I want to jam out of town and @zipcar isn’t an option because they blow for anything other than short trips to Costco (at $8 an hour, you can’ t afford to let the car sit for any period of time, let alone overnight and they don’t allow for one way trips).

Right before I was about to leave, @jgebbia came in to say hi and put his hand up for a high-five. Apparently, that’s how business gets done @airbnb. I asked him about it, and Joe snarked “We don’t do handshakes @airbnb!” Sweet. My kind of place.

Anyway, all and all a good time. If you’re interested in working for @airbnb or want to be around some excitable entrepreneurial energy at the growth stage — go request to cowork @airbnb while they are still offering it.

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