How Peer Services Are Changing The Way We Live [Future Of Home Living]

How Peer Services Are Changing The Way We Live [Future Of Home Living]

Joe Gebbia, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of of Airbnb, discusses the importance of P2P business.

  • 4 august 2013

As part of our Future of Home Living Series, PSFK Labs reached out to experts to get their take on the changes we’ve identified that are driving the evolution of the home. We recently caught up with Joe Gebbia, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of of Airbnb. Read our chat with Joe below to hear more about how P2P communities are becoming more prevalent.

How has the rise of peer to peer sharing services changed the way we live?

Sharing economy services are accommodating a shift that’s already been happening in society. I think what we see is this shift toward ‘access being more powerful than ownership’. We notice that shift everyday with people sharing their homes. People are discovering a lifestyle where the things in their life, like their home or extra bedroom, can bring significant income. One of our hosts in L.A. is an entrepreneur who was able to fund her startup and hire her first employee through Airbnb. The service changed the way she lives, and now, what she gets to work on.

You no longer need to own a second home like a beach house. With services like Airbnb you have access to 100,000 beach houses. Flexible access to several houses is more powerful than owning an individual house.

And it’s not just happening with homes, it’s happening with cars, parking spots, co-working spaces, even dogs!

What are key considerations for successfully building these communities?

As a founder it is important to be the first member of your own community. If you come from the world that you want to redesign then you will have a better sense of the needs and desires of the people who make up that community.  Whether it’s an interest in dogs, or cars, or parking spots, or co-working spaces.

There is a common ingredient that makes each of these communities work: trust. If trust is present then people can share. There are a few ways to create trust—first find people who already have something in common. Airbnb started with three guests and two hosts who were all designers going to the same conference. We had that shared interest and goal.

To build a community is to find the thing that links people together. People come to realize, wow the other people in this place are just like me. I can trust them. And because I can trust them, I can share with them.

Given that Airbnb is all about the sharing of space, curious to know if you’re seeing any shifts in the way people are living, particularly in cities?

I’m living on Airbnb right now. I rented my apartment out on the site, and am experiencing San Francisco neighborhoods one at a time. I’m getting an inside look at how people live in these different neighborhoods.  With the breathtaking bay views of Telegraph Hill and the sounds of lawnmowers of the Mission because I’m near Dolores park. The smell of fresh cut grass in the morning when I come to work. The amount of runners—in that neighborhood is pretty astounding.

With this kind of lifestyle, I have actively been editing my life. Getting rid of stuff.

Realizing that I don’t need a lot of stuff.  There are actually only a few things that I need to really get by. I’ve been editing out the unnecessary so that I can be more mobile and move more freely. To be wherever I want, when I want to be there.

It does take some adjustment. I think the 20th century was about stuff.  The 21st century will be about sharing that stuff.

As a designer, I wanted to get your thoughts on the idea of adaptability as it applies to urban lifestyles. How can reconfigurable and flat pack design be used to accommodate a wider range of living styles?

There is a trend toward products becoming services—an idea that in the future you won’t buy stuff. You’ll buy access to stuff. As you change and your lifestyle evolves, that access or service will evolve with you.

What are the key challenges/considerations?

You have to take the time to understand the journey of the customers using your service.  It is important to have a really good understanding of how your audience or customers change over time so that your service can adapt with them. You get there by achieving empathy. Our entire team is encouraged to travel on Airbnb, and ⅓ of our employees actively host on the site. By using our own service, we live in the shoes of our customers and gather first hand insights to make the service better.

What do you see as the next big trend(s) urban living and why is this important?

Urban cities have such diverse neighborhoods, with different character, flavors – why be stuck in one? What if you had the flexibility to try a new neighborhood each month? New York City and Brooklyn, Paris, London, there’s so much to explore, and now there is an easy way for you to test drive those neighborhoods.

The last century was about suburbanizing. If you look at trends it’s now the opposite of that, cities are becoming more densely populated. People are moving from the suburbs into the city.  In the future it will be really important for cities to make better use of resources.

In Seoul, South Korea, Mayor Park has recognized this problem. His city has over 10 million people and continues to grow. He needs to figure out better ways to make use of Seoul’s resources. He also needs to create a sense of community in neighborhoods.  In places like Seoul, the sharing economy can have economic, environmental, and community benefits for the city’s population.

Amsterdam recently realized the economic impact of the sharing economy through tourism. They discovered how sharing economy companies like Airbnb can make Amsterdam more accessible to more travelers and more people. They are thrilled to bring more international visitors to Amsterdam to help people share their space.

What are three things that you would put in your perfect home or apartment?

1. A good scent, something that greets you when you enter the space and becomes part of the experience without overwhelming your senses.

2. Natural light. No lamp can replace the sunlight that streams through a skylight or bay window.

3. I always leave a welcome package for my Airbnb guests. This includes a guest book, city guide that highlights my favorite neighborhoods, a BART pass, and locally made San Francisco chocolates.

Thanks Joe!


PSFK has announced the latest in a series of trend reports. Following studies into retailsocial mediagamingwork and mobile, the PSFK Labs consulting team have generated the Future of Home Living report. That report manifests as a free summary presentation, an in-depth downloadable PDF and an exhibition in New York City that runs to August 16.

RSVP below to take a tour of the exhibition at 101W15th.



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