Time has come for Joe and I to embark on a new startup adventure. Below is a portion of the note I left at Airbnb -- thought I would share with you : )
It started from the interviews. I met Joe Lencioni and instead of questions I experienced a conversation with a friend. I met Bipin Suresh, and I could sense how he cared about people, and how he saw me as an individual. With every conversation: Yvonne Luo, Christian Deonier, Darrick Brown, Ian Myers, I was more and more convinced that Airbnb lived and breathed belonging. Heck, I mentioned in one of the interviews that we liked martial arts. A few days later, a package arrived with a martial arts bag and a Muai Thai guidebook. Thank you Christian!
(still have it!)
I can’t stress enough how lucky I was to have Bipin as my manager: From India to infrastructure, he encouraged me to run with big problems, and was always there when I needed support.
It’s easy to say a company is cohesive, but one way to tell for sure: build something that isn’t on anyone’s roadmap. Do people take the time to help on their own accord? From air/land to awedience, I continue to be astounded with our people. As I write this, so many memories pour through:
I’ll remember my walks with Alex Liu very fondly — ever since I met him I knew he was a force of nature. I’ll remember hacking with Eric Ning on projects — anytime he joined, it felt like a strong breeze of helpfulness entered the room. I’ll remember having a deep conversation with Steven Campbell on…file structure…and coming to some great lessons at the end of it! With every 1:1 with Christian Deonier, I felt like we skipped the formalities and went into the meaning of life. I’ll remember how Lucius DiPhillips led by example and took responsibility during our 1:1s, and how he encouraged me. I’ll remember how authentic and true Gary Leung was, and how he welcomed me. I’ll remember my walks with Yvonne, my intense talk with Yohannes Tsegay. I’ll remember my talks with Michel: not only did hear me out on some of my more radical technical ideas, but we even got into cooking. I’ll remember pebs and my talks with Jessie Li. I’ll remember working with Brie Bunge — we are lucky as heck to have her. I’ll remember how caring and proactive Jenny Pushkarskaya was — how she included me despite my unconscious push backs. I’ll remember how inspired I was with Emily Cheng — she was so authentic and bigger than life. I’ll remember my talks with Marty, Raghavan, Chuqian, Claire, Mengfei, Musaab, Xianxin, Yansen. I’ll remember werewolf with our teams. I’ll remember hookah with Dragos and Jon.
I’ll remember how fun it was to work with Greg Szorc, Sean Abrahams, Joel Snyder, and Janusz Kudelka on launching air/land. I’ll remember how Mohsen Amiri spent time helping me with kube, how Mike Fowler spent time reviewing our code, and how darn cool Christian W. was. I’ll remember the many threads on slack that turned into projects. I’ll remember Vaithi Sundaram and how enthusiastic he was. I’ll remember all the crazy ideas — live music for the bathrooms could still work, once we’re back from quarantine. I’ll remember our functional programming community, and learners. I’ll remember the promise Calvin gave me about the cigars. I’ll remember working with Avand Amiri — he is a true visionary with a heart of gold. I’ll remember hacking with Samuel — he makes every project move 10x faster. I’ll remember payments incidents, where we all got together. I’ll remember meetings with Amy Gurka and Lesar Stepputat that felt more like hangouts.
One thing I’ll never forget: how we acted in our time of crisis. Brian and the executive team led with a care and transparency that taught me much. I was flooded with emotion with how our community reacted: I’ll never forget the dance@ belo on awedience, the goodbyes people said, the ideas people came up with, and how proactive to help everyone was.
Another memory I’ll never forget: going to an Airbnb experience…and meeting Brian Chesky there. When your CEO goes to Airbnb experiences on the weekend, and stays after to listen to the host, you know you’re at the right place. (I was wearing a red tracksuit and a gold chain — definitely did not expect him there). Joe and I told him then, that we planned to start a company. He said he hoped that what we learned at Airbnb would be helpful to us — that a part of Airbnb’s DNA would be with us in the new company. That’s more true than ever.
The time has come for Joe and I to take that step, and I feel the Airbnb DNA coming with me. It’s bittersweet to leave, but the bug to start a company has only intensified, and we feel in our bones that now is the time.
This company is filled with people with the heart of gold, and this shines through in every interaction. I believe more than ever in the mission we have, and I believe in you. If there’s some advice could leave to you, this is what I would say:
Tinker, play, make friends. The best ideas come when you’re working on hard problems. Learn to listen to those ideas — it can be daunting to try to build them out — that maybe you’re not an expert yet, or it’s not supposed to be done this way — but I encourage you to experiment and see what happens: you’ll be surprised with the journey that unfolds.