Published on : Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Earning nearly $1m ($780,000) from his entrepreneurial endeavour, he paid his own way through Harvard University where he studied computer science.
After several jobs in engineering, Mr. Blecharczyk took a calculated risk and joined two friends to start Airbnb in 2008, when the financial crisis was in full swing. When they couldn’t find enough funding to get the business off the ground, they got creative and sold cereal in custom-designed boxes at the Democratic Convention during the 2008 presidential election. They sold enough “Obama O’s” and “Cap’n McCain’s” to raise $30,000 and eventually gain seed funding to get the company off the ground.
Today, the online home-sharing service is one of Silicon Valley’s most reputed companies. Its estimated worth is around $30bn. Mr. Blecharczyk, 34, who is also the firm’s chief strategy officer, says now it is focused on expanding in Asia-Pacific.
Mr. Blecharczyk said, “It’s a huge population and so much of that population is becoming middle class. The first thing people want to do when they have discretionary income is travel. So, I think we’d be at a huge loss if we weren’t popular in Asia, but huge everywhere else.”
Perhaps the company’s biggest challenge is finding success in mainland China. The number of outbound travellers from the country increased 6% to 135 million in 2016, according to the UNWTO.
Airbnb has roughly 100,000 listings in China, where it faces stiff competition from other online short-term rental platforms, especially Tujia.com which has more than 400,000 listings.
This year New York and Barcelona cracked down on home-sharing platforms amid criticism that they drive up rents and reduce local housing stock.