December 15th / 45 min

Airbnb’s Brian Chesky: Designing for trust

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Brian Chesky

Brian Chesky

Co-founder and CEO, Airbnb
About The Episode

It all started with a box of cereal. Well, that’s not exactly the beginning, but when Brian Chesky and his roommates had maxed out their credit cards while starting up what would become Airbnb, they had a crazy idea to continue funding the company by designing and selling limited-edition cereal boxes during the 2008 presidential election, and call them Obama O’s & Captain McCain.

Now, 12 years later Airbnb just made its initial public offering—IPO—on the Nasdaq on December 10th, and what a ride it’s been. In this interview we speak with Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky, and learn how being a designer has influenced the arc of his journey, leading a company from a 3-person startup to a public company. We talk about what it’s like to design for trust during a pandemic, and the power of having a clear company mission that all can align to.

If— like some of our colleagues— you’re living in or working from an Airbnb right now, or have taken your family on a holiday made possible by them, we hope Brian’s story will be especially inspirational. As always, thanks for listening, and enjoy the show.


  • Learn how Airbnb designs with a mission of belonging, to counteract the loneliness so common in our digital-first era.
  • Hear why Airbnb organizes their teams by customer journey
  • Learn about Project Lighthouse, Airbnb’s effort to combat discrimination.

Meet Your Hosts

Aarron Walter
VP of Design Education

Aarron Walter is Director of Product on the COVID Response team at Resolve to Save Lives. Previously, he was VP of Design Education at InVision, and founded the UX practice at Mailchimp where he helped grow the product from a few thousand users to more than 10 million. He’s the author of a number of books, the latest of which is a second edition of Designing for Emotion. Aarron’s design guidance has helped the White House, the US Department of State, and dozens of major corporations, startups, and venture capital firms.

You can find Aarron on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Eli Woolery
Director of Design Education

Eli is the Director of Design Education at InVision. His design career spans both physical and digital products, and he has worked with companies ranging from startups (his own and others) to Fortune 500 companies.

In addition to his background in product and industrial design, he has been a professional photographer and filmmaker. He teaches the senior capstone class Implementation to undergraduate Product Designers at Stanford University. You can find Eli on Twitter and Medium.

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