Fortune

AIRBNB

IN A Q&A, COFOUNDER JOE GEBBIA EXPLAINS HOW THE SHARING-ECONOMY POWERHOUSE ‘DOG-FOODS’ TO BETTER UNDERSTAND ITS CUSTOMERS AND WHY GREAT DESIGN CULTURES NEVER REALLY FAIL.
Airbnb cofounder Joe Gebbia (right) poses for a selfie at a gathering of Airbnb hosts in Australia.

FEW COMPANIES have emphasized the importance of design thinking as much as Airbnb. Two of the San Francisco startup’s three cofounders, chief product officer Joe Gebbia and CEO Brian Chesky, are graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)—a biographical detail that turned off some investors at first but turned out to be a big advantage for the sharing-economy giant, now valued at $31 billion by investors. We spoke with Gebbia, who also serves as head of Samara, the company’s in-house design and innovation studio, about his approach to design.

FORTUNE: What does “design thinking” mean to you?

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