The doctors are in…
The founders of a multi-billion-dollar company with its roots at an IDSA International Design Conference, have been awarded honorary doctorates by their alma mater. On June 3, 2017, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia received their doctor of fine arts from Rhode Island School of Design Industrial Design Department Chair Charlie Cannon, a speaker at IDSA's Northeast District Design Conference 2017.
Chesky delivered the commencement address to 488 undergraduate and 238 graduate students. He graduated from RISD in 2004 with a BID; Gabbia earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial design/graphic design from RISD in 2005.
Chesky is the co-founder, CEO and head of community at Airbnb, which he started with Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk in 2008. Now, the company books lodging and experiences in more than 65,000 cities and 191 countries.
At commencement, Chesky shared the story of how Gebbia came up with the idea of renting out three air mattresses in their San Francisco apartment to attendees of IDSA’s International Design Conference 2007, to raise money for Chesky’s half of the rent. “And that’s when we called it the Airbed and Breakfast,” described Chesky. “Three designers stayed with us that weekend… and with that, Airbnb was born.”
Now, Gebbia is chief product officer of Airbnb, serves on the board of directors and executive staff and leads Samara, Airbnb’s in-house design and innovation studio. Gebbia also serves on RISD’s Board of Trustees.
Economic Times reports Chesky’s old yearbook photo is accompanied by a quote from comedian Jerry Seinfeld: “I'm sure I'll amount to nothing.“ Today, Airbnb is worth $30 billion.