Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Filling Out Its Executive Team, Airbnb Hires Operations and HR Heads

Airbnb has hired Varsha Rao as head of global operations, and Mark Levy as head of employee experience. Both started this week. In regular company terms, they are effectively the peer-to-peer travel company’s COO and head of HR.

Varsha Rao and Mark Levy

Varsha Rao and Mark Levy

Rao previously led operations at LivingSocial and was CEO of Singtel Digital Media in Singapore. Levy was chief talent officer at the creative agency Landor, and before that was in HR at Best Buy, Levi’s and Gap.

In an emailed statement, Airbnb said Rao would lead customer experience, trust and safety, as well as local operations. Levy, meanwhile, will head up talent, leadership and development and employee experience.

Valued at $2.7 billion last year, and now occupying one of the swankiest offices in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood, Airbnb has basically filled out its executive ranks. The company’s three founders — Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia — are CEO, CTO and CPO (chief product officer), respectively. Former Intuit finance exec Andrew Swain is CFO, former Yahoo lawyer Belinda Johnson is general counsel, former JetBlue and Hyatt exec Amy Curtis-McIntyre is CMO, and former Yahoo exec Kim Rubey leads communications. Joie de Vivre founder Chip Conley has a bit of a more unusual role as head of hospitality.

So, what’s next for the company, corporately speaking? In a conversation with reporters last month, Chesky said, “We don’t have any immediate plans for an IPO at this moment. There are good reasons [to go public], but we don’t have any at this time.” He also said the company had no plans to raise more money.

The company recently revamped its mobile apps to give better support for its hosts, who control the bulk of its customers’ experience. “By the end of this year, we want to be a primarily mobile company,” Chesky said.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik