AUSTRALIAN LIGHT For a seaview with a difference and nature on your doorstep, this historic lighthouse keeper’s cottage at Sugarloaf Point in New South Wales is hard to beat. From £196 (€275) STAR-GAZING IN CHILE Elqui Domos is one of seven astronomic hotels worldwide featuring geodesic domes with detachable roofs to better stare at stars. From a non-astronomical £125 (€175) PHOTOGRAPHY: LKJDÄLKJDF KJLÄKJ ÖÄÖK ; DFÄÖLKJÄLKDJ ÖÄDFÖÄ (2) 62 j THE BLOCKBUSTER ISSUE
PEOPLE BRIAN CHESKY Nationality: American Age: 34 Job: Internet entrepreneur Other interests: Industrial design and ice hockey Question: What’s the biggest hospitality firm in the world? Marriott? Hyatt? InterContinental? They’ve all been selling hotel rooms for almost a century and are big alright. InterContinental has 650,000 rooms. But there’s someone who puts more heads in more beds – 800,000 a night in fact – and he has only been doing it for eight years. Wearing a black zippy top and trainers, Brian Chesky walks hurriedly into the living room of his three-bedroom flat in the once unfashionable but now hipster South of Market district of San Francisco. It’s not the original living room, but an exact replica he has had built in his vast new office in a converted factory near the waterfront, where his 900 staff now work. That’s the kind of thing you do if you start a business that makes you a paper billionaire at just 33. Airbnb, the global house-sharing service that Chesky co-founded now has 1.5m listings and operates in 34,000 cities in 191 countries. It does not publish figures but analysts say the firm will make about bn in revenue this year. That figure is expected to grow to bn in 2020. In the same year, the firm is expected to become profitable, reaching bn earnings before tax. It is growing so fast now it is burning cash and has an operating loss of about 0m a year. But Airbnb’s breakneck growth gives it a valuation of about bn. Marriott is valued at bn. It’s not too shabby for a start-up that eight years ago was literally just a bunch of hot air. It was October 2007 when Chesky and his flatmate Joe Gebbia tried an experiment they were convinced would be a (fun) failure. San Francisco was hosting an international design conference and all the hotels were sold out. “So we decided to set up a B&B. We didn’t have any beds, so we pulled three airbeds out of the closet, inflated them, and called it the Air Bed & Breakfast,” Chesky recalls. “This was not going to be a business. It was a way to make rent for the month. We rented out all the beds immediately and that got us thinking.” Airbnb became a company a few months later. It was the idea – the risk – Chesky had been waiting to take since he left Rhode Island School of Design. “After I graduated, I worked in an industrial design shop in Los Angeles. But a year in, I realised this isn’t what I should be doing for the rest of my life. Part of it was that I was working with entrepreneurs on small projects, and I started to think, ‘Why are they doing that and not me?’ I realised the difference is that they took the chance and I didn’t. I needed to take the risk too.” Seven years on, Airbnb has achieved that emblem of the digital age. It has become a verb, like Google or Uber. If you have not used it, here’s how it works. You log on to the website and choose a place to stay, which could be a full home or apartment, a room, or even a sofa to sleep on. You upload various documents to prove your identity and, if Airbnb’s algorithms confirm that you are who you say you are, and not a criminal, you can rent. Money is paid up front by credit or debit card. Airbnb holds the payment until 24 hours after the guest has arrived, to make sure both parties are satisfied, before releasing the funds to the owner. The website takes about 12% commission. Airbnb tends to be far cheaper than equivalent hotel accommodation because homeowners don’t have staff and other costs. Most tenants stay for five or six days, taking Airbnb’s number of ‘bed nights per year’ into the tens of millions. The average price per night is 0. Airbnb’s success among holidaymakers has prompted Chesky to move into business travel. He has partnered with more than 1000 travel companies, including the file management company Evernote, the ride-sharing start-up THE BLOCKBUSTER ISSUE j 63
Jaguar Magazine celebrates creativity in all its forms, with exclusive features that inspire sensory excitement, from beautiful design to cutting-edge technology.
In this issue, we explore the art of creativity from the Brazilian masters who devised the graceful art of Capoeira, to the Irish artists mixing new culture with old. You will also discover the creative line that links Victorian wallpaper to the iPhone. While the multi-talented actor and performer, Riz Ahmed, explains why it is the right time to reveal his true self to the world.
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