Alumni Of AirBnB's Early Years Reflect On What They Learned About Building Data Driven Organizations


August 28th, 2022

1 hr 10 mins 14 secs

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About this Episode


AirBnB pioneered a number of the organizational practices that have become the goal of modern data teams. Out of that culture a number of successful businesses were created to provide the tools and methods to a broader audience. In this episode several almuni of AirBnB’s formative years who have gone on to found their own companies join the show to reflect on their shared successes, missed opportunities, and lessons learned.


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  • Your host is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Lindsay Pettingill Chetan Sharma, Swaroop Jagadish, Maxime Beauchemin, and Nick Handel about the lessons that they learned in their time at AirBnB and how they are carrying that forward to their respective companies


  • Introduction
  • How did you get involved in the area of data management?
  • You all worked at AirBnB in similar time frames and then went on to found data-focused companies that are finding success in their respective categories. Do you consider it an outgrowth of the specific company culture/work involved or a curiosity of the moment in time for the data industry that led you each in that direction?
  • What are the elements of AirBnB’s data culture that you feel were done right?
    • What do you see as the critical decisions/inflection points in the company’s growth that led you down that path?
  • Every journey has its detours and dead-ends. What are the mistakes that were made (individual and collective) that were most instructive for you?
  • What about that experience and other experiences led you each to go our respective directions with data startups?
    • Was your motivation to start a company addressing the work that you did at AirBnB due to the desire to build on existing success, or the need to fix a nagging frustration?
  • What are the critical lessons for data teams that you are focused on teaching to engineers inside and outside your company?
    • What are your predictions for the next 5 years of data?
  • What are the most interesting, unexpected, or challenging lessons that you have learned while working on translating your experiences at AirBnB into successful products?

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Parting Question

  • From your perspective, what is the biggest gap in the tooling or technology for data management today?

Closing Announcements

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The intro and outro music is from The Hug by The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

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