Airbnb has seen amazing growth over the last year, doubling the number of listings and nights booked on the platform in 2012, and the company sees even more opportunity on the horizon. But surprisingly enough, the company only has 50 engineers right now. To help scale that team, Airbnb has hired former Facebooker Mike Curtis as its new VP of engineering.
We spoke to Curtis about his new role at the company, as well as CTO and co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk to discuss the engineering team’s growth over the coming year. Blecharczyk said Curtis was going to be in charge of recruiting and building out Airbnb’s technology with an eye to the future.
“One of the things that makes me so excited is that it’s still so early with Airbnb, and the opportunity with where we can take it is limitless,” Curtis said. “The sky is the limit.” But that success will be predicated on building out what he called a world-class engineering team.
Curtis used to be director of engineering at Facebook, where he was part of the company’s growth team, trying to get everyone in the world on the social network. As part of that team, he was there for Facebook eclipsing the 1 billion user threshold. Prior to Facebook, Curtis led engineering for Yahoo’s Mail and Messenger teams, including overseeing a massive redesign of Yahoo Mail in 2010. He was also there for the release of Yahoo’s Mail API a year earlier.
Curtis told me that he sees an opportunity to solve some really hard problems for Airbnb users. Like how to provide better or more personalized matches between guests and hosts, or how to manage prices across the marketplace. Curtis will be working on those challenges as he builds out the engineering team.