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Disrupting the hotel industry and urban economies

Co-founders of Airbnb Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nate Blecharczyk speak at a Q&A at the Los Angeles Theatre during Airbnb Open LA on Nov. 19, 2016, in Los Angeles. Mike Windle/Getty Images for Airbnb

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Whether you’ve used it or not, you probably know of Airbnb. It’s the home rental service that, despite a tricky start, ultimately changed how people travel and how people monetize their homes.

The now $30 billion company is the subject of Leigh Gallagher’s new book, “The Airbnb Story: How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions … and Created Plenty of Controversy.”

Gallagher on what differentiates Airbnb with other vacation rental services:

One of the differences I think is so interesting, and I spend a lot of time in the book talking about, is that Airbnb was urban. You know, VRBO and HomeAway, these other companies, they were vacation rental sites. And in fact, when Airbnb came up with this idea, somebody said to CEO Brian Chesky, “Oh, you know the vacation rental business is really big.” And he said he hadn’t even put the words vacation and rental together, he hadn’t even connected those dots. So, that was a big thing, because by being urban, it became very appealing to millennials very quickly, and it also became very disruptive to hotel companies in that way.

On what Airbnb will look like in the future:

They just launched this big push into trips and more than just the accommodation side of things. You can go have all these interesting experiences, you’re soon going to be able to do something involving flights, they do have many, many, many more things planned. You know, for example, [Chesky’s] model is Amazon. By going from just offering accommodations to offering now things involving the rest of the travel experience, you know, he sees it as when Amazon started with books, but now we buy everything on Amazon.

Click the audio player above to hear the full interview.

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