San Francisco-based company Airbnb was founded by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia. At the time, the two were living together as roommates. In an effort to make ends meet, they decided to let travelers rent an air mattress in their living room. In 2008, another roommate joined in and made a website. That’s when the new business began to take hold.
Ten years later, and over four million homes, apartments, boats, mansions, and villas are listed on Airbnb’s website. It has become an international sensation, with listings available in 191 countries. Current estimations put the company’s value at approximately $32 billion. And to think… all that started with a single apartment in San Francisco.
Arguably, the hospitality broker (for Airbnb owns none of the properties it advertises) has done a lot to hurt housing rates in major expensive cities like San Francisco. Landlords who can make more rent from weekend tourists than from their years-old tenants have converted properties into makeshift hotels, and legislation has had to rise up to help protect tenants. Today, San Francisco has more than 7,000 people without stable housing, including as many as 1,000 families. But it was founded by two people desperately trying to make rent, and now they want to help.
CEO Brian Chesky announced on Tuesday, November 13, that Airbnb will be donating $5 million to help alleviate the homelessness crisis in San Francisco. The company hasn’t yet announced where that money will be invested, but they’ve worked in the past with Hamilton Families, San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, and Larkin Street Youth Services, all of which are heavily involved in homelessness aid.
“Airbnb is lucky to call San Francisco our hometown and we share in the responsibility to ensure San Francisco continues to be a city open to everyone, and a city that works together to tackle our most difficult issues,” the company stated in a blog post.