We talk to Lenny Rachitsky who spent seven years helping to grow Airbnb. During this time at Airbnb Lenny was responsible for increasing the supply side of their marketplace and improving the conversion rates of guests who signed up to stay with Airbnb hosts.
We cover a lot of great subjects with Lenny, including:
– How culture plays a big part in Airbnb’s success and how they used it tactically on a day-to-day basis.
– Why it’s so important to nail your problem statement and why most teams fail at this.
– Setting ambitious goals without demotivating your team
– The importance of getting your team structure right in a fast-growing company
Listen to this episode:
Highlights from the Show:
[5:30] Lenny tells us about some of the best Airbnb houses he’s stayed in.
[8:30] The Airbnb founders were very focused on the culture of Airbnb from the outset. For Airbnb culture was part of the reason they were able to grow so fast, it helped to hire the right fit employees for their mission, help them to make decisions, face down challenges.
[9:50] Airbnb has four core values:
a. Be a host
b. Embrace the adventure
c. Be a serial entrepreneur
d. Champion the mission
[13:30] Lenny’s last role at Airbnb was the product lead for supply growth, getting more people to host their property on Airbnb.
The teams who grew Airbnb’s supply host were:
a. Top of funnel – paid growth (Google, Facebook), referral growth (hosts referring other hosts), organic growth (SEO)
b. Activation – get hosts their first booking on the platform
c. Retention – keep hosts on the platform
[16:40] Lenny thinks most projects that fail do so because they haven’t correctly nailed their problem statement. His method for solving this is to ensure people know what problem their solving, be able to articulate why it’s a problem, have evidence it’s a problem and be able to understand when they’ve solved it.
[18:50] One of the projects Lenny worked on was to build a dashboard for hosts to decrease their response rate. If a host could reduce their response rate, it was one of the best predictors of more successful hosts.
[23:50] The best goals challenge people and push them to hit ambitious targets, but they’re not so hard that people simple given up before they’ve ever started.
[25:10] Lenny likes the OKR approach to goal setting where you take what you feel your team can achieve and make that 70%, and increase it by another 30% to get your real goal.
[29:00] Lenny feels the primary job of a leader is to assemble the right team, point them in the right direction, and unblock everything that gets in their way.
[35:00] Airbnb realized early on their best avenue to growth was to create cross-functional teams dedicated to a problem.
[37:20] Even in a team structure where you create fully autonomous teams, you need to have regular check-ins to ensure teams are moving in the right direction.
[38:00] Prioritization is critical for high growth companies. Instead of spreading your resources across several different initiatives and stretching yourself too thin, bet on a couple and go all in.