A few months after Airbnb found product-market fit, they got some terrible news.
The Samwer brothers (think: the Winklevoss twins, but competent) planned to launch a clone of Airbnb — and they had already raised $90 million and hired hundreds of people to do it.
At the time, Airbnb had just 40 full-time employees all working out of the same tiny office.
Naturally, Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky freaked out.
He asked a bunch of different entrepreneurs what he should do. Most of them said the same thing: over the long-term, the better product will win. Paul Graham reminded Chesky, “they’re mercenaries. You all are missionaries.”
Airbnb took the advice. In Chesky’s words:
“My biggest punishment, my biggest revenge on you is, I’m gonna make you run this company long term. You had the baby, now you gotta raise the child. And you’re stuck with it for 18 years.
I knew he wanted to sell the company.. I’m like, “No, no. You’re running this company.” And I knew he maybe could move faster than me for a year, but he wasn’t gonna keep doing it.
And so that was our strategy. We built the company for the long term.”
The rest is history:
P.S. Chesky shares the story here (1:02:00 marker)