Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky on ‘Disruption’

Chesky: When was the last time like, you were disrupted that was a good thing?

Unless you’re doing something really bad.

So I think in Silicon Valley it’s got a really positive association to be disruptive: means you’re changing the world, outside of Silicon Valley to be disruptive means you’re changing the way I live my life and I actually kind of like my life and I think that for us to win I don’t think it’s a zero-sum game. I think for us to win, people don’t have to lose and I think if we’re labeled as disruptors outside of the valley where the term really matters I think we all view it as a company where suddenly the old guard has to lose and suddenly like, there are going to be a hotels in the future and then suddenly like neighborhoods are going to get turned upside and all these like, horrible associations happen when you start to think about disruption and it’s kind of exciting and from a narrative of technology like change in the nature of cities, but I like to think that like, if we are destructive to the way the world is that’s only because that world was destructive to the world before that and again. If you look back a hundred years ago we did not invent the idea of staying in people’s homes. We did not invent the idea of people having reputations.

The world was smaller cities where communities, people knew each other before the world was so globalized and that currency of trust met that people were doing the stuff they’re doing on Airbnb. Almost everything I told today is something that probably existed 100 years ago but didn’t make it in scale to globalization. People used to hitchhike until suddenly hitchhikers didn’t have every reputation and we created an irrational fear of strangers but if you suddenly gave everyone a reputation again then none of this stuff is that scary again and so I like to think of us as category creators. I prefer people think of us and think we are a way for people to be able to participate in an economy. When they weren’t able to, we’re creating a new way to travel, a new kind of category and we may be part of a macro-economic revolution and I think that’s very different than saying we’re just disrupting everything and then they’re not going to exist and we’re going to be here for ourselves. So I think that’s kind of where I would come out come down on that.

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