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Elkann and Chesky: Tech only exists if it excites

The two CEOs share their vision for the future of technology and travel

The CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, and the chairman of Stellantis, John Elkann, had a candid conversation about the role of technology in shaping the future of travel and mobility. The two leaders spoke at the Collision 2023 conference, an annual event that brings together tech entrepreneurs, investors, and media from around the world.

Chesky and Elkann discussed how technology can create meaningful experiences for people, rather than just products or services. They agreed that technology should be driven by human needs and emotions, not by data or algorithms.

“Technology only exists if it excites people,” Elkann said. “It has to be something that makes people dream, that makes people feel better, that makes people connect with each other.”

Chesky echoed this sentiment, saying that Airbnb’s mission is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere. He said that Airbnb is not just a platform for booking accommodation, but a community of hosts and guests who share their homes, cultures, and passions.

“We don’t think of ourselves as a tech company,” Chesky said. “We think of ourselves as a hospitality company that uses technology to enable human connection.”

Elkann and Chesky: Tech only exists if it excites

How Airbnb and Stellantis are adapting to the changing world

The two CEOs also shared how their respective companies are adapting to the changing world, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. They said that the crisis has accelerated some trends that were already happening, such as the rise of remote work, digital nomads, and sustainable travel.

Chesky said that Airbnb has seen a shift in travel patterns, with more people traveling to nearby destinations, staying longer, and working from anywhere. He said that Airbnb is catering to these new needs by offering more flexible booking options, more local experiences, and more support for hosts.

“We’re seeing a new era of travel,” Chesky said. “People are not traveling to consume things, they’re traveling to live in different places.”

Elkann said that Stellantis, the world’s fourth-largest automaker formed by the merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group, is also embracing the new reality by investing in electric vehicles, autonomous driving, and mobility services. He said that Stellantis is committed to reducing its environmental impact and enhancing its social responsibility.

“We have a huge opportunity to make mobility more accessible, more affordable, more inclusive, and more sustainable,” Elkann said. “We have a responsibility to do so.”

The importance of innovation and collaboration

Finally, the two CEOs talked about the importance of innovation and collaboration in the tech industry. They said that they are always looking for new ideas and new partners to create value for their customers and stakeholders.

Chesky said that Airbnb is constantly experimenting with new features and products, such as Airbnb Plus, Airbnb Luxe, Airbnb Experiences, and Airbnb Adventures. He also said that Airbnb is collaborating with other companies and organizations, such as Jony Ive’s design firm LoveFrom, the International Olympic Committee, and the United Nations.

“We’re always trying to push the boundaries of what’s possible,” Chesky said. “We’re always trying to learn from others who are doing amazing things.”

Elkann said that Stellantis is also open to innovation and collaboration, both internally and externally. He said that Stellantis has a diverse portfolio of brands, such as Jeep, Peugeot, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati, each with its own identity and heritage. He also said that Stellantis is partnering with other players in the mobility ecosystem, such as Apple CarPlay, Google Maps, Amazon Alexa, and Waymo.

“We have a culture of curiosity and creativity,” Elkann said. “We’re always looking for new ways to delight our customers and make their lives better.”

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