Joe Gebbia, the co-founder of Airbnb, bet his whole company on the belief that people can trust each other enough to stay in one another’s homes. How did he overcome the stranger-danger bias? Through good design. Now, 123 million hosted nights (and counting) later, Gebbia sets out his dream for a culture of sharing in which design helps foster community and connection instead of isolation and separation.





  • pull up – (of a vehicle) come to a halt
  • airbed – an inflatable mattress.
  • pitch – a form of words used when trying to persuade someone to buy or accept something
  • hand over – an act or instance of handing something over
  • trash (v) – damage or destroy
  • overcome – succeed in dealing with (a problem or difficulty)
  • bias – inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair
  • make a dent – to have an effect on something


Think about it

Answer the questions below. Pause at times indicated in brackets.

  • What was the first experience of hosting like for Joe Gebbia? How did it start? How did he feel? (2:36)
  • How did Airbed and Breakfast start? (3:51)
  • Why didn’t the website have the “blast off” Joe had expected? (5:14)
  • How do people feel when they give and are given someone’s unlocked phone? (7:02)
  • What happens when people share too much or too little? (9:57)
  • What happened in Uruguay and how did the hosts behave? (12:16)
  • What is the conclusion of Joe’s Talk?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

I want to tell you the story about ________ time I almost got kidnapped in ________ trunk of ________ red Mazda Miata. It’s the day after graduating from design school and I’m having a yard sale. And this guy pulls up in this red Mazda and he starts looking through my stuff. And he buys a ________ of art that I made. And it turns out he’s alone ________ town for the night, driving cross-country on a road trip before he goes into the Peace Corps. So I invite him out for a beer and he tells me all about his passion for making ________ difference in the world.

Now it’s starting to get late, and I’m getting pretty tired. As I motion for the tab, I make the mistake ________ asking him, “So where are you staying tonight?” And he makes it worse ________ saying, “Actually, I don’t have a place.” And I’m thinking, “Oh, man!” What do you do? We’ve all been there, right? Do I offer to host this guy? But, I just met him — I mean, he says he’s going to the Peace Corps, but I don’t really know if he’s going to the Peace Corps and I don’t want to end ________ kidnapped in the trunk of a Miata. That’s a small trunk!

So then I hear myself saying, “Hey, I have an airbed you can stay on in my living room.” And the voice in my head goes, “Wait, what?”

That night, I’m laying in bed, I’m staring ________ the ceiling and thinking, “Oh my god, what have I done? There’s a complete stranger sleeping in my living room. What if he’s psychotic?” My anxiety grows ________ much, I leap out of bed, I sneak on my tiptoes to the door, and I lock the bedroom door.

It turns ________ he was not psychotic. We’ve ________ in touch ever since. And the piece of art he bought at the yard sale is hanging in his classroom; he’s a teacher now.


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