On her latest business trip to LA, we chatted with our good friend Chelsea Thompson, who has been at the huge hospitality company Airbnb since nearly the beginning. She tells us a bit about how the tech world has influenced her, her favorite Airbnb listing, and her ideal Saturday in San Francisco.
How long have you been at Airbnb? Do you remember what number employee you were?
I have been with the company for almost 41/2 years. I don't remember the exact number, but I think there were about 60 employees in our San Francisco headquarters when I started. We now have over 2,000 employees in offices around the globe!
What has it been like to work for a company that's experienced that amount of growth before your own eyes?
It feels like you're on a rocket ship, just trying to hold on tight! When I started working here none of my friends or family had ever heard of the company, now every single person perks up when I tell them I work at Airbnb. It has been incredible to witness that change over the years. In many ways it still feels like a scrappy startup, but there has definitely been more structure put in place as the company continues to grow.
What is the most challenging part about your job? What's the most rewarding part?
My job in Community Engagement requires constant interaction with large groups of people and lots of event planning (I have planned over 115 meetups over the years!). It's surprising to most people but I'm actually pretty introverted. So as a result I end up feeling really exhausted sometimes!
The most rewarding part of my job is hands down the people I get to work with everyday. Airbnb has hired some world class talent. I love coming to work knowing I can learn from & be inspired by those around me. We also emphasize the value of being a "host" so our office is filled with the most hospitable people you will ever meet!
How has the tech world influenced you as a person and also your career?
Being in tech, specifically part of the sharing economy, at this moment in history is huge. My everyday life revolves around technology (from the moment I hop in an Uber to commute to the office, to the time my groceries are delivered via InstaCart at night). This was not the case 5 short years ago. Getting the opportunity to work in such a disruptive industry has taught me that people (just like you and me) have the ability to change the world in which we live.
Do you have a favorite Airbnb listing you've stayed at?
I have stayed in so many listings over the years but whenever I get asked this question I always think back to this rustic home near Mendocino right on the Northern California coastline. The best part about it was the huge deck with a hot tub. It was the best spot for watching the sunsets and star-gazing at night. Then I'd fall asleep to the ocean crashing against the rocks right outside my bedroom window. Pure bliss!
If you could only travel to one destination for the rest of your life, where would it be?
London, for sure. I am fascinated by the history and the architecture. Every time I go to London I discover a whole new neighborhood and there's still so much for me to explore!
Any place you would like to travel to that you haven't yet?
The list goes on and on. I have been really interested in other U.S. cities lately. I'd love to take a road trip through the south. But my next big international trip is definitely going to be South Africa. My husband and I are dying to go on a safari and see all of the wildlife!
Name your ideal Saturday in San Francisco. Feel free to name actual places!
It would start with making breakfast at home in Pacific Heights with my hubby. Then I'd walk down to Cow Hollow for a relaxing yoga class at The Pad Studios, followed by picking up some fresh flowers for the house at my favorite corner shop, Cheese Plus. The evening would be all about cocktails & dinner with friends, followed by a movie at Kabuki Theater!
Your favorite Between Ten piece to wear on that ideal Saturday?
Well I am currently obsessed with my Natasha dress! But for an ideal Saturday piece, I think I'd have to go with the Rho Tee - Striped. I can't go wrong with my favorite pair of ripped jeans and a striped tee.