James Manyika, who has joined Airbnb's board of directors [Credit: Airbnb]

Airbnb adds Google AI “expert” Manyika to board of directors

US: Airbnb has announced the appointment of James Manyika, an AI “ambassador” at Google, to its board of directors with immediate effect.

Currently senior vice president of research, technology and society at Google, Manyika will chair the Airbnb board’s stakeholder committee. He fills a position on the board that was vacated earlier this year by Belinda Johnson, who did not seek re-election.

Manyika is also a holder of two masters’ degrees and a PHD in artificial intelligence and robotics, and previously spent almost three decades working at McKinsey leading its global institute’s research on global economic and technology trends and serving technology firms on growth, innovation and strategy.

Airbnb co-founder and CEO, Brian Chesky, said: “I’m thrilled that James Manyika is joining our board. He’s dedicated his career to exploring technology’s impact on society, and is one of the world’s leading experts in AI.

“He started advising Airbnb in 2018 and has been an essential thought partner to me for years. It’s inevitable that AI will reshape society and have a profound impact on our business.

“With James joining our board, we’ll continue to benefit from his guidance as we embark on the dawn of this new technological revolution,” he added.

Manyika said: “At such a critical point of inflection for technology and society, I’m inspired by the ways Airbnb has bridged people and cultures all around the world. I’m honoured to join the board of directors and look forward to working together with the entire Airbnb team to build for the future in a way that benefits hosts, guests and communities everywhere.”

Chesky has spoken openly about Airbnb’s AI ambitions, notably during the company’s Q2 earnings report in August [its most profitable second quarter to date], when he articulated how generative AI was being used to enhance the platform’s interface through increased personalisation. AI will contribute to Airbnb’s wider mission to connect users / guests with local experiences, homes and hosts around the world at a more advanced level than a basic chatbot.

Last month, Airbnb unveiled its latest ‘Get an Airbnb’ marketing campaign, featuring a series of animated short films that emphasise why the short-term rental platform is a better booking option than a hotel stay, as it builds on that mission.

As well as Chesky and Manyika, Airbnb’s board of directors currently includes: Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder and chief strategy officer; Joe Gebbia, co-founder and chairman; Angela Ahrendts, director; Amrita Ahuja, director; Kenneth Chenault, director; Jeffrey [Jeff] Jordan, director; and Alfred Lin, director.

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