I recently had the opportunity to interview the founder of blockchain-based Partiko, Sida Wang, who you might be surprised to find out worked for Airbnb as a software engineer. Not only that, but Sida was also the founder of Airbnb’s blockchain community, Blockbnb.
Sida Wang worked as a software engineer for Airbnb in San Francisco until fairly recently, when he decided to go full force with his blockchain-based startup, Partiko.
I was curious what he learned while working for Airbnb:
Stellabelle: What was the first program you built and how old were you?
Sida: I was 15 years old when I made my first computer program with a language called GV Basics, and it was a snake game. The game got popular among my classmates, which motivated me to build more games during high school. After joining college, I started learning web and Android programming and built an online community for student clubs.
Stellabelle: How did you end up joining Airbnb?
Sida: After graduating from Rice, I received offers from Linkedin, Facebook, Google and Airbnb. I didn’t like Facebook’s business model of selling user data, so it was out for me. Also, Facebook, Google and LinkedIn were so big, and I felt there would be less room for me to grow. On the other hand, Airbnb was a fast growing startup that’s disrupting the hotel business, and I like their commission-based business model. The design of their product was appealing, which resonated with me as a product person. I felt lucky that I chose Airbnb, which later became the starting point for my crypto journey.
Stellabelle: I just learned that you built Airbnb’s blockchain community, Blockbnb, and had CEO of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong, as a speaker at one of your events. How did you get Brian Armstrong to speak at your event?
Sida: Blockbnb started as a very small Slack channel, where a bunch of crypto friends at Airbnb and I were talking everything about crypto. It then grew into tech talks, meetups and guest speaker sessions, where I was able to share my knowledge and passion with more people at Airbnb.
Brian was actually not the first guest speaker we had at Blockbnb, and I invited Stefan Thomas from Ripple, Linda Xie from Scalar Capital and Alessandro Voto from Consensys before him. I met Brian in person for the first time at a meetup in San Francisco, and was deeply impressed by how his experience working at Airbnb had a huge impact on him. I figured he would be the perfect person to talk crypto to Airbnb folks and I emailed him after the meetup asking if he would come, and he said yes.
Stellabelle: What was the most important thing you learned while working at Airbnb?
Sida: At Airbnb I learned how to build and grow a product. I learned how to reduce friction for mainstream adoption of Airbnb. I was responsible for the Instant Book functionality at Airbnb, and we saw great success with its adoption by hosts.
Stellabelle: How and why did you make the leap from Airbnb to working full-time on your blockchain-based startup Partiko?
Sida: As you may know, I built the Partiko mobile app as a side project before I left Airbnb. I saw such good feedback from the users and it was doing quite well with 40% retention rate and 10% week-over-week growth that it was very encouraging. Making Partiko was an extension of my mission to help crypto go mainstream.
Sida: Once you realize you can send value just as easily as sending an email, you see how it’s going to change everything. Once you get a taste of crypto’s potential, you can never go back. Ever since learning about Bitcoin in 2016, I knew I had to play a role in helping with the mass adoption of crypto and I have both the skills and the track record for this exact role. There are still lots of hurdles but with the right focus on user experience, I believe it can be done.
Check out Sida Wang’s startup Partiko: https://partiko.app/