Airbnb COO is Leaving the Company as It Seeks to go Public Next Year
Airbnb COO, Belinda Johnson announced in an email that she is stepping down as COO on March 1. Johnson isn’t leaving Airbnb entirely. She will join the company’s board of directors as its ninth member. It’s a big loss for the home-sharing start-up. Johnson has been at the company since 2011.
In the email, Johnson said that she needs to prioritize more time to spend with her family. Further writing, “It starts with one question I’m asked at every fireside chat, panel or media interview: ‘How do you balance a successful career with being a mom?’ Sometimes it’s the first question, sometimes it’s the last, but it is always asked.”
Johnson was Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky’s first executive hire. Chesky credits Johnson with helping the company see through the noise and working with regulators. He said in a statement, “Growing up, I just assumed that when people don’t like you, you should avoid them. Belinda taught me better. She told me that we should meet the people that don’t like us. As she said, ‘It’s hard to hate up close.’”
Johnson first served as chief business affairs and legal officer and steered Airbnb through regulatory and legal turbulence. In large part due to her, Airbnb has taken a different approach with regulators than other start-ups such as Uber.
Still, the company is facing a slew of regulatory disputes over taxes and rental rules with a number of city governments, including New York. Most recently, the company lost a ballot measure in Jersey City, New Jersey, that would regulate home-sharing companies.
Chesky further added, “Once Belinda transitions out of her role as COO, she will join our Board of Directors. Though we intend for her to serve on our board for a long time to come, I have told Belinda that she can return to Airbnb as an executive if she ever wishes to do so.”