Former Apple design chief Jony Ive saw plenty of ups and downs during his 27 years at the iPhone-maker, and now he’s sharing his wisdom with another generation of innovators.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published Wednesday, Ive opened up about his friendship with Brian Chesky, the 41-year-old cofounder and CEO of Airbnb. According to Ive, when he left Apple in 2019 and formed a creative collective called LoveFrom, Chesky called and asked to be one Ive’s first clients.
Chesky, who studied at the Rhode Island School of Design before cofounding the home-sharing service in 2008, told the Journal that he “never understood design on a deeper level until I worked with Jony.” Ive is now advising Chesky on everything from logo design to strategy, and since the onset of the pandemic, Chesky and Ive talk almost every day.
In fact, it was the early pandemic challenges for Airbnb that brought the two moguls together, the Journal reports. In March 2020, Airbnb bookings plummeted as the coronavirus spread across the globe, sending the company’s valuation down 16%, according to one report.
When Airbnb started considering job cuts, Ive weighed in: “You aren’t going to cut your way to innovation,” he told Chesky at the time. He pushed the CEO to think “beyond where and when” — the title of an inspiration book he made for Chesky — and to think of Airbnb as a company about “connection.”
Still, the company laid off 1,900 workers, or about 25% of it staff, in May 2020. Employees told The New York Times at the time that the layoffs “gutted” Airbnb’s company culture, though Chesky was praised for his approach to cutting jobs: He pledged he’d use company resources to help those workers find new roles elsewhere.