The billionaire founder of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, is listing one bedroom of his San Francisco house on his online home-stay rental platform to try to prove to users that being a host isn’t risky or difficult.
The “light-filled corner bedroom” listed on Airbnb is located in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco and boasts north- and west-facing windows, an armchair, a desk, two closets, and a queen bed mattress. And of course, the house will come with Chesky himself.
“I live here, so I’ll be here,” Chesky said in a video posted on the Airbnb website on Wednesday; in it, he is seen walking around his house taking photos to list on Airbnb.
Chesky is out to prove that there shouldn’t be any obstacles in listing an apartment on Airbnb for people looking to make a little extra cash. “We know there are a couple of obstacles to putting your place on Airbnb. One, it can be hard to get started. And two, you might be a little nervous about having guests in your home,” Chesky says in the video.
To assuage these fears, Airbnb this week is launching Airbnb Setup and upgrading its Aircover with several new features, which Chesky is hoping will make hosting an apartment on his platform easier and safer.
“I did it 15 years ago, and I’m going to do it again,” Chesky said in the video, reminiscing of Airbnb’s early days when he and cofounder Joe Gebbia first rented out their spare bedroom using three air mattresses on the floor. According to Chesky, Airbnb’s official name is a portmanteau of “air bed” and “bed and breakfast.” Nostalgic memorabilia from Airbnb’s early days can be seen around the house, including the framed receipt for the very first air mattress Chesky and Gebbia bought for the company.
“It’s a really nice bedroom,” Chesky said Wednesday on CBS Mornings, adding, “There’s a little bit of Airbnb history. I’ll make you fresh cookies. You can come to the gym with me; we’ll take a walk to the park. There’s a lot of fun things we’ll do.”
New Airbnb updates
After its launch this week, Airbnb’s new service Airbnb Setup will let new hosts connect with “superhosts” in their area, or seasoned Airbnb hosts who have high ratings on the platform, to help them get started.
“They can walk you through the process,” Chesky said to CNBC, likening Airbnb Setup to Apple’s Genius Bar, where new users are given one-on-one guidance for free.
As part of the new updates, Airbnb is also upgrading its Aircover—the platform’s host protection guarantees—by installing a stronger verification process for guests. Starting in spring, all users will have to prove their identity if they wish to rent a house, and suspicious reservations will be blocked, to make hosts more comfortable with letting strangers into their homes.
“We’re having reservation-screening technology, which uses some pretty advanced machine learning to make sure that we can take signals of suspicious reservations to block what we suspect are parties. We have 24/7 support. So I feel pretty good about it,” Chesky told CNBC.
Chesky is also tripling Aircover’s damage protection to up to $3 million. This is on top of previous policy changes to ban parties and events in Airbnb rentals.
Users looking to stay in Chesky’s place shouldn’t be worried. Chesky has 180 positive reviews on his Airbnb dating back to 2015, and in his latest online listing he notes there are security cameras around the property, along with around-the-clock security personnel.
Founded in 2008, Airbnb now boasts more than 4 million hosts worldwide. Brian Chesky has a net worth of $8 billion.
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