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Airbnb CEO says he changed how he ran the business during the pandemic and now follows a simple rule Steve Jobs used

Brian Chesky speaking at a keynote in 2018Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, who said the pandemic forced him to run Airbnb more like how Steve Jobs used to run Apple.

Photo By Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

  • Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky told the “This Week in Startups” podcast the pandemic forced him to change how he runs the company.
  • He said the loss of about 80% of Airbnb’s business when the pandemic halted travel forced major changes.
  • Now, Chesky said the company follows a principle Steve Jobs held at Apple — to never work on more than the CEO can focus on.

In order to reevaluate how to run Airbnb during the pandemic, CEO Brian Chesky said he leaned on a principle that Steve Jobs used at Apple regarding how leaders should spend their time. 

In a recent appearance on the “This Week in Startups” podcast, Chesky said when the vacation rental company lost about 80% of its business in just eight weeks after COVID-19 shut down the tourism industry, he used the time to adjust how the business operated. In order to do that, he said he found guidance adopting a Jobsian rule that a company should never work on more than the CEO can focus on.

“We were like staring into the abyss,” Chesky told host Jason Calacanis. “I mean, you might remember people were making predictions like ‘Is this the end of Airbnb? Will Airbnb exist?'”

According to Chesky, a few people who famously worked closely with Steve Jobs during his time at Apple ultimately proved instrumental in reshaping how Airbnb runs. Specifically, he said he collaborated with both Jony Ive and Hiroki Asai, key executives who led Apple’s design and marketing efforts, respectively, for years.

Ive gave him perspective on how Jobs used to run Apple, especially how he led the company when he returned and brought it back from near bankruptcy in 1997, he said. 

Chesky told Calacanis Ive used to tell Jobs it was important for Jobs himself to be personally involved with product development.

Chesky said that advice, paired with hiring Asai, led him to adopt one Jobs policy of never working on more efforts than the CEO can be involved with and think about, which he saw as a way to get every part of the company operating on “one roadmap.”

“I’m gonna do very few things and I’m gonna be involved in every single detail and Airbnb’s not gonna do anything more than I can personally focus on,” Chesky said, regarding reframing the business.

At first, Chesky admitted, the process of having himself review nearly every decision the company made slowed progress, and some people questioned whether the CEO “meddling” in so many different parts of the company was good for business.

However, over time he said he feels it has created a culture of accountability, knowing every decision will be reviewed by someone like himself.

Chesky told Calacanis he feels the company is more efficient now, adding he spends almost all of his time on product, marketing, and hiring, with very little time spent on corporate business.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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