The Importance of Company Culture at Airbnb

Every decent company has their own set of company culture and it is their culture that creates the character and outlines what a company is like to work with.

Company culture can have a powerful impact on the company’s performance as it binds the employees together as a team. In this article, let’s look at growing start-up, Airbnb.

Recently named 2014 Company of the Year, Airbnb was founded in 2008 by roommates, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia. For those who are unfamiliar, Airbnb is a marketplace for people to list and book unique accommodations around the world; whether it is online or from a mobile phone or other portable devices.

The company grew into an international sensation in the accommodation industry, reportedly valued at $2.5 billion and counting. To date, Airbnb has helped service over 8.5 million guests, and has more than 500,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries.

“Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with passion.”
– Brian Chesky, Founder Airbnb

Company culture at Airbnb

Brian Chesky believes that the stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. Corporate process is like a flowchart of structure of activities that served as a goal in order to provide great value and services to clients or customers in order to bring profit to the company.

“Problems will come and go. But culture is forever.”
– Brian Chesky

It is partly like a family or a tribe; there is a constant flow of things done or daily task in the household or in the group. It is not a monotonous day-to-day chore but an autonomous goal that everyone have to accomplish; either by helping one another or independently.

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When a company has a strong culture, trusting employees would be easier as it binds people together and it provides stability for the company. A good company culture also gives management a lookout for their employees; allowing them to retain the right employees. Once company have strong core values, they will know which employees will sink or swim with the team.

“Having a clear mission and making sure you know that mission and making sure that mission comes through the company is probably the most important thing you can do for both culture and values.”
– Brian Chesky

Airbnb was built upon a team that was talented and at the same time intimidate each other by how smart they were. Instead of quitting because they were uncomfortable with each other’s intelligence, the team raised their bar and worked hard. Airbnb believes in shaping good judgment in individuals instead of imposing rules across the company

Using this method, instead of working against each other, the partners worked with each other. You can view the lecture given by Brian Chesky and Alfred Lin, Former COO of Zappos and Partner at Sequoia Capital on how to build a great company culture here:


Building the culture

It is often asked how a company build their culture. Brian considered upholding their core values in everything they do is the easiest way on building the company culture at Airbnb.

“Culture is a thousand things, a thousand times. It is living the core values when you hire; when you write an email; when you are working on a project; when you are walking in the hall. We have the power, by living the values, to build the culture.“ Chesky says.

There were days when employees feel the pressure at achieving the task at hand or their goals. Obviously is it important to do so and it is even acceptable to feel that way once in a while. However, when a company has a strong culture, it gives the employees a platform to fall back on and pick themselves up instead of giving up.

In Summary

Airbnb’s Human Resource team pride themselves as being playful, fun, helpful and dead serious.  They uphold the company’s most important goal, which is preserving and driving the company’s culture. Every company has their own culture. A good company would seek advice and get ideas but a successful company would not only seek advice but also practice it.

Some maintain it with conscientious attention, while others just let it happen and hope for the best. Whichever you choose, there is only one fact that remains: a good culture creates an environment where people can do their best work.

See more articles on Company Culture.


Heryati R

Heryati R

Heryati is a member of the customer success team at 6Q, and is based in Perth, Western Australia. Heryati enjoys writing, reading and live music. She believes 6Q is awesome for employee engagement surveys.