When you first start a company, it can take a while to hire the first employee, because you’re so concerned with how they’re going to change the dynamic of the founding team. But if you think that is a difficult process, hiring the first executive is a whole other ball game. Given the nature of our business, we decided to hire a General Counsel as our first executive, and ultimately found Belinda Johnson to lead our legal and policy teams. When we hired Belinda, we knew we had found a great match, but we could never have anticipated the long-term impact of her hire.

Looking back at the nearly four years Belinda has been with the company, I’ve now realized that hiring her was one of the best decisions we ever made. Belinda joined Airbnb in 2011 and since then she has created a legal team that are true business partners, a public policy team that is being embraced by cities, states and countries around the world, and has been a critical leader in our growth from a small start-up to the world’s largest hospitality platform. Considering this incredible success, we knew it was time for her to take on more.

That’s why I’m excited to announce that we’re promoting Belinda to Chief Business Affairs and Legal Officer. In this role, she will be a key business leader, driving Airbnb’s engagement strategy and civic partnership efforts, as well as overseeing the company’s global public policy, community mobilization, legal, communications, compliance, social initiatives and philanthropy efforts.

Belinda is no stranger to business and legal affairs—she has practiced law and been a business partner in areas of emerging technology for over two decades. During the first wave of the internet she served as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary to Broadcast.com, one of the first companies to stream music over the internet, and helped lead the company’s IPO and subsequent sale to Yahoo. Then, in her 12 years at Yahoo, she oversaw the legal strategy for Yahoo’s global products, content alliances, and commercial deals, serving as Deputy General Counsel before joining Airbnb. In her career, she’s built a skill set in management, business, law and technology that has been invaluable to Airbnb’s evolution and vision.

When I told the company about her promotion, the most common response was “Thank you, this is really great for the company.” I got this response because she is a collaborative leader, a creative thinker, and embodies the entrepreneurial drive that runs through the core of Airbnb. Belinda is a shining example of the very best of the Airbnb culture, and a role model not just for the members of her own team, but for everyone at the company—from engineers to accountants to designers. I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next.

 

This post was written by Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky. Follow Brian’s articles on Medium or on Twitter @BChesky