One of the three founders of Airbnb is stepping away from the company he helped start 14 years ago.

Joe Gebbia helped start Airbnb in 2008 alongside Brian Chesky and Nate Blecharczyk. He will remain a board member of the company and its nonprofit arm.

He said in an email that he plans to pursue documentary filmmaking, continue philanthropic efforts and advocate for refugees. In addition to focusing on other ventures, Gebbia said he’s leaving to prepare to become a father.

“The primary reason for this transition is that this is the only company I’ve ever helped build, and my brain is bursting with more ideas to bring to the world,” Gebbia said in his email. “My first new venture is a startup called parenthood, at which I’ll be taking on the role of Dad. The others involve a complementary product to Airbnb, documentary filmmaking, and various philanthropic initiatives.”

The company is describing the change as a welcome one, with the two other co-founders who have built Airbnb into a verb in short order.

The three say they’ll continue their traditions of taking annual trips together and meeting on Sundays.

“What I’m most thankful for is that the three of us — Joe, Nate and I — are still together, still meeting every Sunday,” CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky said in a statement. “We built a dream together. And now, even after all of these years, we still continue to dream.”

Gebbia shared an open letter going into more detail about the company’s origins and his plans for the future.

He recalled getting a letter from his San Francisco landlord in 2007 letting him know the monthly rent was going up by $1,050.

“At this point, we had less than four weeks to figure it out,” Gebbia wrote. “Our dreams of becoming entrepreneurs were whittled down to a far more immediate dilemma: How were we going to change the world if we couldn’t even afford an apartment?”

The conundrum turned into a founding story as the trio remained on-site and assembled a team that would put together Airbed & Breakfast or AB&B. 

Initially, they described it as “eBay for space,” nodding to the online retailer’s size and fame at the time. Airbnb would eventually grow to become a publicly-traded company with a $67 billion market cap today.

The company now boasts 4 million hosts which Gebbia called “the largest network of hospitality on the planet.”

“You’ve welcomed the world into your guest bedrooms, yurts, villas, caves, barns, mansions, tugboats, Airstreams, and that one giant potato house in Idaho,” he wrote. “You belong to a unique subset of humanity who knows arriving to fast wifi, a pyramid of extra toilet paper, and a friendly face (or at least a friendly note) make a big difference.”

Showing his commitment to philanthropy in his next chapter, Gebbia closed his letter promising to match any donation to Airbnb.org between now and his birthday in a month. 

Email Taylor Anderson

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