In 2011 as Airbnb sought to expand into Europe it was confronted by the three Samwer brothers of Germany who had made a fortune by launching clones of primarily United States platforms and websites before they had a focus or funding for expansion into Europe. The brothers had set up Wimbu as an Airbnb clone and had hundreds of employees and a dozen offices.
Brian Chesky, the cofounder and CEO of Airbnb was concerned, at the time it had 40 employees and needed to get into Europe. Most of Airbnb’s revenue now is from outside the USA. Wimbu approached Airbnb with an offer to sell at a huge price.
The CEO of Airbnb asked for advice, and got it from Mark Zuckerberg [Facebook], Andrew Mason [Groupon], Paul Graham [Y Combinator] and Reid Hoffman [LinkedIn]. Everyone had a different opinion as to what to do.
In telling this story, Leigh Gallagher, author of The Airbnb Story (Virgin Books 2017) at page 49 writes: “In the end, the advice Chesky took came from Paul Graham, who told him that the difference between Airbnb and Wimdu was that Airbnb owners were *missionaries*, and Wimdu owners were *mercenaries*. Missionaries, he told him, usually win.”