SAN FRANCISCO— What was supposed to be a cheerleading gathering for European Airbnb hosts turned into a harrowing night in a tiny loft for some 50-plus Airbnb employees, the company’s CEO posted.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky wrote a piece for the site Medium on Monday, detailing the events of the weekend.
Airbnb Open was meant to be a gathering of close to 5,000 hosts of the room-letting site from over 110 countries.
Coming soon after a victory at the polls in its home city of San Francisco, the event had a celebratory air.
Airbnb Open launched on Thursday in a large tent in the Parc de la Villette, about 4 miles north of Notre Dame and the city center.
Friday night, Chesky wrote, he, his family and Airbnb’s first 40 employees met for a reunion dinner at an Airbnb loft.
At 9:45 pm that night, news began to trickle in of the attacks in Paris. After about 45 minutes the severity of scope of the attacks became apparent.
“Michael, our head of security, took over central command, and a handful of employees stayed up throughout the night so could [sic] account for all 645 of our employees. Some were just a couple doors from the attacks, and had witnessed much of the horror. We knew that one of our groups were at the stadium where an attack occurred, and we were worried they would be caught in a stampede. Others were hiding under tables in restaurants, whose metal gates were locked with the lights dimmed,” he wrote.
With the city in lockdown, the group realized they were more than 50 people trapped in a two-bedroom Airbnb loft.
“We cleared out the furniture, and set up pillows and blankets on the floors so people could get some sleep,” Chesky wrote. He used a walk-in shower as a mini-communication hub.
It took hours to make sure that every employee in Paris was safe and accounted for. The decision was made to cancel the rest of the conference.
“The following day, I felt like a zombie. Like many, we were jittery, and not quite feeling ourselves. Our Paris office, including some of those most affected, held strong and supported everyone,” he wrote.
On Sunday, Chesky and almost 100 other Airbnb employees finally flew back to San Francisco. They were greeted by more than a dozen Airbnb employees bearing warm cookies to welcome them home.
“The unspeakable acts that we witnessed yesterday represent the worst of humanity,” he wrote. ” In the face of this tragedy, I saw the very best. Our community cared for one another, and came together to honor our highest ideals.”
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