Airbnb hires Pinterest’s Josifovski as Homes CTO

US: Airbnb has reportedly appointed Pinterest CTO Vanja Josifovski as its CTO of Airbnb Homes, the company’s largest and most mature business unit, according to VentureBeat.

Josifovski, who was at Pinterest for four years, was responsible for overseeing the company’s overall technical vision and strategy, including the building of its machine learning and search platforms, as well as managing its core engineering teams.

Airbnb Homes president Greg Greeley stated the company’s reasoning for hiring Josifovski was “to bring together homes engineering, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science under a single leader”.

It represents the second high-profile hiring of a senior executive by Airbnb in five months. In October, it recruited Aristotle Balogh from Google, where he was VP of engineering, to become CTO of Airbnb’s overall platform.

Both Pinterest and Airbnb are set to go public, perhaps even as soon as this summer, which hints at why the latter is recruiting heavily.

Talking to VentureBeat, Josifovski said: “It’s (Airbnb) an amazing company. It’s a company that I feel has a shot at changing the world in a good way.

“It’s also a company that is very ambitious. The opportunities are just endless, of what Airbnb can do, in travel and well beyond travel, actually,” he added.

Now that Airbnb has two CTOs, Balogh will lead the technical aspects of Airbnb’s overall platform, while Josifovski will lead all aspects of the Homes Business’ technology strategy. The latter will report to Greeley.

Greeley said: “Vanja will spearhead development of our technical vision and direction of our platform capabilities across our Homes business.”

Josifovski spoke about the importance of AI in a talk last year, when he was still at Pinterest.

He said: “There isn’t a part of the company where we don’t use AI. AI is going to be available in everybody’s palm – you can be a small shop owner and be able to use it.

“You can go online and pick it up. The democratisation of AI is a bigger factor in driving anything,” he added.

Josifovski said that Airbnb offered a technical challenge that interested him, as he wanted to build architecture for scaling its multiple lines of business.

Before becoming Pinterest CTO in 2017, Josifovski led the company’s growth engineering team at a time of significant international expansion.

He was also responsible for leading Pinterest’s Discovery team, which included personalisation and computer vision, as well as its ads engineering team when Pinterest was developing its ad-driven business model and rapidly expanding revenue growth.

Josifovski has also previously worked in research labs at Google AI, Yahoo Research and IBM Research.

In addition to Josifovski, Airbnb has made several hires to its expanding Homes business line. These include Laura Chambers, general manager for Homes hosts and community; Vinayak Hegde, who heads the growth marketing activities for Homes; and Romain Voog, head of worldwide operations, sales, and geographies.

For more information on the Homes programme, visit the Airbnb website here.