Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky is one of the richest and most successful entrepreneurs in the internet age. He is credited with creating the short-term rental giant that disrupted the hotel industry while providing users with a worthy alternative to hotel rooms. Brian Chesky’s net worth is estimated at around $13 billion in 2024.

Let’s dive into his career, net worth, and life story to see what insights we can learn from Brian Chesky.

Brian Chesky Net Worth Breakdown:

Since most of Brian Chesky’s personal wealth derives from his stake in Airbnb, which he co-founded, his net worth is relatively easy to estimate. Chesky’s ownership stake in Airbnb is through the publicly traded Class A shares (around 15 million shares) and Class B shares (around 63 million). It is usual for founders of internet companies like Airbnb to have different classes of shares which gives them higher voting power disproportionate to their percentage holding in the company.

Here’s how Chesky’s net worth breaks down.

Asset or Income Source Contribution to Net Worth
Airbnb stake $12.6 billion
Airbnb CEO salary $400,000
Other investments $400 million
Total Net Worth $13 billion

Brian Chesky Net Worth: Early Life of a Hospitality King

Brian Chesky was born on August 29, 1981, in Niskayuna, New York. His father, Robert H. Chesky, was of Polish origin while his mother, Deborah, was of Italian origin. His parents were social workers and were not too keen on Brian becoming a tech entrepreneur.

Brian Chesky was more interested in art and design (his passion at the time), so he attended the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in industrial design in 2004. During his time there, Chesky was influenced by Charles Eames and Walt Disney.

Surprisingly, Chesky was also a competitive bodybuilder in his early 20s. A Fast Company profile in 2014 described him as “A former hockey player and bodybuilder with 16-inch biceps, the CEO commands attention. His boomerang grin and slant nose work to sharply focus his attention on you. Rather than turn his head toward me, he physically picks up his chair and pivots it directly so we’re eye to eye.”

However, as things turned out, Chesky’s friendship with a fellow student, Joe Gebbia, at the Rhode Island School of Design would eventually have a bearing on his career path.

Chesky began his career in 2005 as an industrial designer and strategist at 3DID Inc., which was a small company based in Los Angeles. Chesky moved to San Francisco where he shared an apartment with Gebbia. According to Chesky’s LinkedIn profile, he was a principal at Brian Chesky Design between June 2007 and October 2007.

Brian Chesky Net Worth: Founding Airbnb

In late 2007, the Industrial Designers Society of America hosted a design conference in San Francisco. All the hotels in the city were fully booked due to the event, and Chesky and Gebbia decided to capitalize on the opportunity by renting out their San Francisco to help them make rent. They even bought three air mattresses and branded their service as Airbed and Breakfast (0r Airbnb). The initial response was good and they hosted three guests on the very first day.

Meanwhile, Chesky’s mother wasn’t convinced that he was on the right track with the business idea. Chesky recalls that when he told his mother about renting out his San Francisco flat, she said, “So I guess you don’t have that job with health insurance anymore.” Chesky went on to explain:

And I said, ‘No, mom, I’m an entrepreneur.’ And she said, ‘No, you’re unemployed.’

According to Chesky, his parents wanted him to opt for a job that paid “lots of money,” given their background in social work.

Chesky continued to focus on the business, and his former roommate, Nathan Blecharczyk, also joined the team. In March 2008, Airbed and Breakfast was formally launched during South by Southwest (SXSW) and received two bookings. Later that year, the company launched its website just in time for the Democratic National Convention and received 80 bookings.

Finally, the three co-founders launched Airbnb in March 2009 and received $20,000 in funding from the famed startup incubator Y Combinator. In April 2009, Airbnb received a $585,000 investment from global private equity and venture capital giant Sequoia Capital.

Two years later, the company expanded internationally, beginning with an office in Germany, and has since expanded exponentially. At the end of 2023, there were over 220 regions and countries with Airbnb listings. Overall, more than 100,000 cities had a cumulative 7.7 million active Airbnb listings at the end of 2023.

It’s remarkable progress for the company which started with an air bed at Chesky’s apartment. Chesky and other co-founders had faith in their business idea which helped the company become a force to reckon with and challenged the traditional business model of the hotel industry.

Brian Chesky Net Worth: Becoming a Billionaire

As a private company, Airbnb raised billions of dollars through multiple rounds and became a “unicorn” in 2011 (meaning that it was valued at more than $1 billion). Its valuation reached a colossal $30 billion in the Series F round in 2016 and rose even further by the next year. However, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a crash in Airbnb’s valuation and the company raised $1 billion at a valuation of $18 billion, half of what it was in 2017.

Airbnb had a tough time during the COVID-19 pandemic as the hospitality industry was arguably among the worst affected during the period. Airbnb resorted to mass layoffs to stay afloat even as the company paid generous severance packages to the affected employees.

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Chesky’s net worth received a boost in late 2020 when Airbnb, which had by then grown to a global online marketplace for travel, went public. For context, 2020 was a record year for the US IPO market as a flurry of companies, most of which were loss-making (like Airbnb was at the time of IPO), went public riding the wave of cheap liquidity fueled by the Fed’s zero-bound interest rates.

Airbnb opted for a traditional IPO – rather than the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger which was the popular way to go public between 2020 and 2021. This would turn out to be a great decision as most SPACs have since fallen off of the map.

The company priced the IPO at $68 and the shares went as high as $165, making it one of the most successful IPOs of the year. At the end of its first trading day, Airbnb was valued at more than $100 billion. At its peak, Airbnb was valued more than the world’s leading hotel chains and its market cap was thrice the combined market cap of traditional hotels like Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton.

The surge in Airbnb’s stock price post the IPO came a day after DoorDash also nearly doubled on its debut. Many analysts raised concerns over the soaring valuations of new-age tech companies as despite raising their IPO prices during the process they ended up soaring on the listing day.

Incidentally, both Affirm and Roblox delayed their listing to 2021 to rework the IPO price after the stellar listings of DoorDash and Airbnb.

Meanwhile, after the listing that made Airbnb among the best IPOs ever, Chesky said he was “humbled,” speaking with Bloomberg TV’s Emily Chang. He added:

The higher the stock price, the higher expectations, the harder we’re going to be working obviously

]Meanwhile, Airbnb’s stock price and, by extension, Chesky’s net worth, peaked in late 2021 amid the rally in growth shares. The stock price peaked at over $200 in November 2021 and has since fallen and so has Chesky’s net worth. Incidentally, even Tesla’s market cap peaked at above $1.2 trillion in November 2021 and has since fallen by around half. The company’s mercurial CEO, Elon Musk, also lost his position as the world’s richest person to Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos.
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Brian Chesky Net Worth: Other Business Investments

Brian Chesky has also made some venture capital investments in his personal capacity, including in Samara, a startup founded by his friend and Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia. While Gebbia is not actively involved with Airbnb after he stepped down in 2022, co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk continues to serve as the company’s chief strategy officer.

According to Crunchbase, the Airbnb chief executive officer has invested in a total of six companies which include Flightcar, Balanced, Capitol AI, Summly, and Socialcam.

Brian Chesky Net Worth: Stock and Cryptocurrency Investments

While we don’t know much about Brian Chesky’s investments in stocks, bonds, or cryptocurrencies, he has talked highly of cryptocurrencies. Incidentally, Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong worked as an engineer with Airbnb before he went on to start the cryptocurrency exchange.

In an interview with CNBC, while Chesky did not provide any concrete plans that Airbnb might have about digital assets, he said that “we have been certainly looking at this [cryptocurrncies].” On a similar note, while Airbnb currently does not accept cryptocurrencies as a payment option, many users want that option.

In response to Chesky’s tweet asking, “If Airbnb could launch anything in 2022, what would it be?” the top response was crypto payments with the request even ranking higher than clear pricing displays, a guest loyalty program, and even better customer service.

Crypto enthusiasts have been pushing companies to accept payments in cryptocurrencies. Rising cryptocurrency adoption is a positive for the crypto market, which has been in an uptrend with Bitcoin reaching new all-time highs in March.

Elsewhere, Chesky owns properties in San Francisco and Los Angeles but no one knows exactly how much they are worth (besides Chesky).

Brian Chesky’s Awards and Accolades

Forbes ranked Airbnb founder Brian Chesky as one of the most eligible billionaires in the world alongside celebrity Kim Kardashian and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. On a related note, Chesky is said to be dating Indian-American Elissa Patel.

brian chesky and patel
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Here are some of the other awards and accolades that the Airbnb co-founder and CEO has received.

  • In 2015, Time Magzine ranked him among the 100 Most Influential People of the year.
  • In 2015 only, then US President Barack Obama named Chesky Ambassador of Global Entrepreneurship.
  • In 2016, Chesky made it into the Youngest Forbes 400 list
  • In 2022, the International Hospitality Institute featured Chesky among the 100 Most Powerful People in Global Hospitality

Brian Chesky’s Philanthropic Activities

Brian Chesky is a signatory to the Giving Pledge, whose signatories – currently at 240 – have committed to donating the bulk of their wealth within their lifetime. The Giving Pledge was founded by legendary value investor Warren Buffett along with Bill Gates and his former wife, Melinda Gates.

“There is a saying that a great trip can set you down a path that doesn’t end when you return. With this pledge, I want to help more kids realize the kind of journey I have had. I want to show them that their dreams are not bounded by what they can see in front of them. Their limits are not so limited. Walt Disney once said, ‘If you can dream it, you can do it’. I would like to help them dream,” said Chesky while signing the Giving Pledge.

The signatories are spread across 29 countries and among others include UK-based Indian “metal king” Anil Agarwal who has an estimated net worth of $6 billion, and Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Chesky donated $100 million to the Obama Foundation in 2022 to launch a scholarship program to support students looking to make a career in public service.

What Can We Learn From Brian Chesky’s Life?

There is a lot that we can learn from Brian Chesky’s life. While Chesky’s net worth stretches into billions of dollars, he said, “I never focused on trying to make a lot of money.” He added, “I just focused on being as efficient as possible [and] obsessing over the experience.”

For budding entrepreneurs, it’s prudent to not only worry about the “valuation” but also the value and experience that their startup offers to users. One of the reasons Airbnb was so successful, despite its humble beginnings in Chesky’s San Francisco apartment, is its intense focus on customers.

The zeal not only helped Airbnb become a $100 billion company but was instrumental in the company surviving the COVID-19 pandemic which was a near-death blow for the hotel industry.

Chesky, a former industrial design student, had a remarkable journey to becoming among the world’s wealthiest people. It started with his belief and conviction in an idea and identifying an opportunity in the short-term renting market quite early.