NATHAN BLECHARCZYK, BRIAN CHESKY, JOE GEBBIA
The story is stuff of legend: San Francisco roommates Brian and Joe were struggling to pay the rent. There was a big conference coming to town and hotels were booked solid. Why not put three inflatable mattresses on the living-room floor and advertise them online? A third friend, Nathan, who knew about computer stuff, was enlisted to sort the website. They called it Airbnb. That was in 2008. A decade later, it’s an AED 110bn behemoth, an icon of the sharing economy, which has transformed the travel choices of millions. Sure, couch-surfing or house swapping wasn’t new, but what the trio did was different – they created trust and human connections. They made it look safe, they made it look easy, they made it look desirable. Now they have introduced guided tours, hosted experiences and a restaurant-reservations er vice, aiming not just at disrupting the hotel business but the whole travel industry. True, it hasn’t always been plain sailing and Airbnb isn’t beyond criticism. But it has changed everything.