Airbnb has opened a new office in Seattle with room for more than 300 people, making it the latest tech titan to set down permanent roots in the Emerald City.
A little more than a year ago Airbnb signed a six-year lease for two floors at the 8th + Olive building in downtown Seattle, totaling 42,000 square feet, and now the hospitality heavyweight is showing off the office for the first time. Airbnb’s expansion has come quickly, as the company first arrived in Seattle two years ago setting up shop in the WeWork office in Westlake Tower.
On its jobs page, Airbnb says its Seattle office “is a startup within a startup” that owns “everything related to operationalizing Airbnb to keep it running as a marketplace.” In order to grow the number of projects based in the Seattle office, Airbnb is ratcheting up hiring not just for engineers, but also for product, design, data science and many other roles.
The expansion in Seattle gives Airbnb greater ability to poach people from a large number of companies, including one of its competitors, Bellevue, Wash.-based travel giant Expedia Inc., which acquired HomeAway in 2015 and has been positioning the Austin, Texas-based company as more of a direct rival to Airbnb. Expedia is planning its own move to the Seattle waterfront in next year.
The Seattle office is led by Airbnb engineering director Ari Steinberg, who oversaw Facebook’s Seattle engineering office before launching a travel startup, Vamo, that was acquired by Airbnb in 2015. Ian McAllister, who founded and led the AmazonSmile charity program as part of his long tenure at the Seattle-based e-commerce giant, co-founded the Airbnb Seattle office but has since gone back to Amazon, where he is now director of international expansion for Alexa.
Airbnb’s in-house architecture team, Airbnb Environments, teamed up with Portland-based Bora Architects, which also worked on the company’s San Francisco office and Portland engineering center, to design the new office. It features 36 meeting rooms, 12 of which are inspired by unique Airbnb listings around the world. The company has a program that lets employees participate in the design and finishings used in these rooms.
The office is designed to resemble the Seattle environment, and in some ways, compensate for it. Communal areas are meant to look like outdoor space, with plenty of natural light, brick and plants. The company also made sure the office had ample light levels to offset Seattle’s dreary, rainy weather.
Airbnb has continued to expand its bread-and-butter business of providing a platform for people to rent rooms and homes to each other, but it has also branched out to become an even bigger part of the travel experience. Earlier this year, the company pledged to expand its Experiences business, which focuses on interesting things to do while traveling, to 1,000 destinations by the end of the year, including places such as Easter Island, Tasmania and Iceland.
Airbnb is also expanding the types of properties it offers on its platform. In laying out its future roadmap earlier this year, the company added a new upscale tier of home listings as well as categories for vacation homes, “unique spaces,” bed and breakfasts and boutique hotels.
In the decade since it was founded, Airbnb has grown to offer places to stay in more than 191 countries. The company says hosts on the platform have made more than $41 billion in 10 years, off more than 300 million guest checkins.