How Airbnb Had Been Rejected By 7 Investors In 2008

Airbnb is today a household name, and has disrupted the decades-old hotel industry. But not too long ago, it was just another startup looking to raise money. And it wasn’t having the best time at it.

In 2008, Airbnb was looking to raise $150,000 in funding for a 10% stake in the company. The founders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, had emailed 7 investors to ask for an investment, but only heard back from 5 of them. Sadly, all 5 investors rejected their proposal, and refused to invest. These were the rejection emails received by Airbnb in 2008. The names of the investors have been redacted to protect their privacy.

5 investors had sent Airbnb rejection mails in 2008

Airbnb Investor Rejection Mail 1

Sent on: 7/16/2008

Thank you for the introduction. Brian good to meet you — while this sounds interesting it is not something we would do here — not in our area of focus. Do wish you best of luck.

Airbnb Investor Rejection Mail 2

Sent on: 8/01/2008

Hi Brian,

Apologies for the delayed response. We’ve had a chance to discuss internally, and unfortunately don’t think that it’s the right opportunity from an investment perspective. The potential market opportunity did not seem large enough for our required model.

Airbnb Investor Rejection Mail 3

Sent on: 07/30/2008

I ran this by my partner. First. it’s not in one of our prime 5 target markets so it’s a long shot for our involvement. Also, since it’s not an area where we are currently investing. Getting us involved doesn’t give you the expertise that would be best for your company.

My recommendation is to keep us posted. If you get to the point of a Series A investment please let us know and well take a look.

Airbnb Investor Rejection Mail 4

Sent on: 09/02/2008

Thanks for the follow up. I was unavailable to get on the call today as I’ll be out of town through end of day Thursday. I really like the progress you guys have made, but between issues outstanding with ABB and my current time commitments to other projects, specifically existing investments, I’m not going to be able to proceed with an investment at this point. My biggest remaining concerns are:

– significant ramp up in traction post the DNC and RNC

– technical staffing

– investment syndicate

Airbnb Investor Rejection Mail 5

Sent on: 10/28/08

We decided yesterday to not take this to the next level.
We’ve always struggled with travel as a category.
We recognize its one of the top e-commerce categories but for some reason, we’ve not been able to get excited about travel related businesses.

The Airbnb rejection mails covered a whole gamut of reasons — some investors said that the industry wasn’t their area of focus, and others said that they had never been keen on backing travel businesses. Others said that the market wasn’t big enough for Airbnb to succeed, and yet others asked them to get back if they managed to raise Series A. Some said that they didn’t have the time to invest, and two didn’t respond at at all. But this might have been one of the biggest mistake of their careers — Airbnb is worth over $100 billion today, so an investment at a valuation of just $1.5 million would’ve given them a life-changing return on their investment. Which just goes to show that even if investors don’t invest if your business when you’re starting off, if you manage to persevere and succeed like Airbnb, you can end up proving them spectacularly wrong.