Today, Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk sent the following note to employees in response to co-founder Joe Gebbia’s news.
I’d like to share my own reflection on Joe’s letter and our journey together.
Joe has a gift for thinking outside the box and having the courage to pursue these visions. He once told me that “Reasonable actions lead to reasonable results; unreasonable actions lead to unreasonable results.”
I first noticed that shortly after meeting Joe for the first time and moving in with him. One night he declared he would be staying up most of the night until his new website was complete. Sure enough, in the morning he was still in the living room working. However, over the course of the night, his vision for his new site had evolved, and rather than rushing a launch he was now going to spend another few weeks to pursue the bigger and better vision. Such revelations are not uncommon for Joe.
When the rent was raised on the apartment, I decided to move elsewhere. Joe took a different path. It started with a handwritten poster in his room that said “Act In Spite of Fear” that I think was meant to be a rallying call. I don’t think Joe had a vision at that point, but he had the courage to seek an unconventional solution, and soon thereafter a vision and the founding story unfolded.
Later, Joe and Brian came up with the idea to create Obama’Os and Captain McCains. When Joe tried to bring them to our YC interview, I told him to leave them behind— to me, the more conventional one of us, the cereal represented a distraction from our primary focus. Undeterred, he hid them in his bag and then introduced them to Paul Graham at the key moment when we otherwise would have been rejected from Y-Combinator.
Over the years Joe applied his gifts to Airbnb in many ways. When we needed to rethink our trust capabilities, Joe had an expansive imagination that led to us launching 40 trust-related enhancements in the matter of weeks. When our hiring efforts needed rejuvenating, Joe worked closely with the Talent team to create a uniquely Airbnb recruiting and onboarding approach. Later with the launch of Airbnb.Org, Joe continued to push the boundaries of what Airbnb can become. These are just a few examples of Joe’s passion for thinking bigger, better, and different.
One of the special things about the way the three of us work together is that we come at a problem from different angles and find different solutions. We have learned that our different perspectives, especially when integrated into one holistic solution, can be very powerful. We have the trust to challenge each other’s thinking knowing that wherever we land, the solution will be more robust.
As a board member, shareholder, co-founder, and friend, I know the three of us will continue to have these conversations regularly. Being a Founder-Led company is not just about having a big, long-term vision for what we can be, but it is also about anchoring that in a consistent and robust context– the three of us will continue to provide both of these.
The three of us have had a lot of fun building this company together– countless adventures. And the way in which the founders work and work together has changed a lot since the early days—but the fundamentals have not and will not. These days our talented team is responsible for most of the execution, but the board and founders still gauge whether we are living up to our fullest potential and what that can look like. That’s Joe’s specialty, and I know Joe’s voice in these conversations will remain strong.
The adventures will continue, and the fun will too. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Joe, as a board member, shareholder, co-founder, and friend, to build a bigger and better Airbnb, and I can’t wait to see what Joe dreams up and pursues next.