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How a 34-year-old former bodybuilder built one of the most highly valued startups in the world

Chesky grew up in Niskayuna, N.Y., north of Albany. He was into hockey, and he also liked to draw and design new versions Nike sneakers, which turned into an interest in art.

Chesky grew up in Niskayuna, N.Y., north of Albany. He was into hockey, and he also liked to draw and design new versions Nike sneakers, which turned into an interest in art.
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In 1999, Chesky attended Rhode Island School of Design, where he served as captain of the hockey team and studied industrial design.

In 1999, Chesky attended Rhode Island School of Design, where he served as captain of the hockey team and studied industrial design.
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At RISD, Chesky met Joe Gebbia, who would eventually cofound Airbnb.

At RISD, Chesky met Joe Gebbia, who would eventually cofound Airbnb.

Gebbia told Fortune that after graduation, he pulled Chesky aside and said: "Before you get on the plane, there’s something I need to tell you. We’re going to start a company one day, and they’re going to write a book about it."

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In his early 20s, Chesky was a competitive bodybuilder. He's described as still having "16-inch biceps."

In his early 20s, Chesky was a competitive bodybuilder. He's described as still having "16-inch biceps."

In a Fast Company profile from 2014, Chesky is described as an imposing figure: "A former hockey player and bodybuilder with 16-inch biceps, the CEO commands attention. His boomerang grin and slant nose work to sharply focus his attention on you. Rather than turn his head toward me, he physically picks up his chair and pivots it directly so we're eye to eye."

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After graduating from RISD, Chesky moved to Los Angeles to work in industrial design.

After graduating from RISD, Chesky moved to Los Angeles to work in industrial design.
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But shortly thereafter, he moved to San Francisco with Gebbia. When a design conference came to town in 2007 resulting in all the hotels being sold out, Gebbia pitched Chesky the idea to rent out space for those who couldn't find a place to stay.

 

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Along with a third cofounder, Nathan Blecharczyk, Gebbia and Chesky started what was at the time called Airbedandbreakfast.com.

Along with a third cofounder, Nathan Blecharczyk, Gebbia and Chesky started what was at the time called Airbedandbreakfast.com.
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Since then, Airbnb has not only shortened its name, but has expanded to more than 34,000 cities and as of 2016, had been used by more than 60 million guests. The company is currently the second-highest valued startup in the U.S.

Since then, Airbnb has not only shortened its name, but has expanded to more than 34,000 cities and as of 2016, had been used by more than 60 million guests. The company is currently the second-highest valued startup in the U.S.

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According to Forbes, Chesky owns a 13% stake in Airbnb and his personal net worth is $3.3 billion, landing him at #7 on the list of the world's wealthiest entrepreneurs under 40.

According to Forbes, Chesky owns a 13% stake in Airbnb and his personal net worth is $3.3 billion, landing him at #7 on the list of the world's wealthiest entrepreneurs under 40.
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All three of Airbnb's founders have publicly pledged to donate more than 50% of their wealth to the Giving Pledge, a philanthropic initiative started by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates.

All three of Airbnb's founders have publicly pledged to donate more than 50% of their wealth to the Giving Pledge, a philanthropic initiative started by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates.

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Chesky is currently dating artist Elissa Patel, who he met on Tinder two years ago.

Chesky is currently dating artist Elissa Patel, who he met on Tinder two years ago.

Chesky and Patel do yoga together each week and book staycations in Airbnb's throughout San Francisco. 

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Up until recently, Chesky was still renting his couch on Airbnb. But after getting caught flouting a San Francisco law that requires hosts to register with the city, Chesky was forced to take the listing down.

Up until recently, Chesky was still renting his couch on Airbnb. But after getting caught flouting a San Francisco law that requires hosts to register with the city, Chesky was forced to take the listing down.

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Now, Chesky is working to solve issues of discrimination</a> on the company's platform, ensure legal issues don't force Airbnb out of New York State, and is raising another $850 million round of funding that would value the company at $30 million.

Now, Chesky is working to solve issues of discrimination</a> on the company's platform, ensure legal issues don't force Airbnb out of New York State, and is raising another $850 million round of funding that would value the company at $30 million.

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