Airbnb and Philanthropy

AirbnbEveryone knows about Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth, and that he has decided to give most of it away to charity. However, many people are not aware of how many founders of companies are following suit. One prominent example today is the founders of the popular lodging website, Airbnb. The three cofounders of this wildly successful company have pledged to give most of their wealth away to charity. They have, indeed, joined the Giving Pledge, and are some of the youngest individuals to do so.

Airbnb was founded in the year 2008 without any notion that it would make as much money as it has. The story of this company began in 2007, when two of its cofounders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, did not have enough money to pay their San Francisco rent. Instead of resigning themselves to their fate, they set up a website for their home, offering an airbed stay, breakfast included, at eighty dollars a night. They received three guests, and decided that such an experience could lead to a viable business.

So, they called on their engineering friend Nathan Blecharczyk to join them in creating Airbnb. The three started fundraising in the summer of 2008, during the presidential election. They sold candidate-specific cereal boxes and managed to raise thirty thousand dollars. In the spring of 2009, Airbnb was officially launched, after receiving funding. It has now grown to be a company worth $25 billion. The Giving Pledge they signed will ensure that almost $5 billion of their worth will go to charity, at least.

The Giving Pledge was created in the year 2010 by the great philanthropists themselves, Bill and Melinda Gates, along with Warren Buffet. They wanted to give some of the richest people in the world accountability when it came to philanthropy. Of course, the Pledge cannot necessarily force the people who sign it to donate, but it makes sure that those on the list are educated in terms of ways to give and what makes an impact.

The founders of Airbnb signed the Pledge because they want more children around the world to have opportunities to follow their passions. The founders’ hope is that their donations spur children to pursue dreams, by helping eliminate financial obstacles. Airbnb has been involved in philanthropic efforts in the past, but this is its biggest one yet.

Airbnb is a unique company in the philanthropy sphere because it already services the community by fostering sharing of space and getting to know others from around the world. It wants to ‘rid the world of strangers,’ and it is now able to do that and so much more.

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