×

5. Airbnb

Rooms for rent

(Left to right) Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia, co-founders of Airbnb
Source: Airbnb
(Left to right) Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia, co-founders of Airbnb

Founders: Nathan Blecharczyk, Joe Gebbia, Brian Chesky
Date launched: 2008
Funding: $682.8 million
Industries disrupted: Hotels, travel

Homeowners in Cuba have now joined the Airbnb network, opening their homes and renting rooms to American citizens after the U.S. announced it was resuming travel and trade with the island country. The San Francisco-based home-sharing site—started by 20-somethings who enrolled in the Y Combinator program to incubate their start-up idea—is now active in 34,000 cities in 190 countries and has more than 1 million listings on its platform.

Read MoreFULL LIST: 2015 DISRUPTOR 50

The company claims to have booked 30 million nights so far. For those who haven't seen the ads—or heard about its trouble with various cities across the country—Airbnb is an online marketplace that allows people with extra rooms, or even a couch, to rent to folks visiting their city. The hosts set the nightly rate they want to charge, and Airbnb collects the payment, keeping a small slice for itself and passing the rest onto the host.

The company has angered regulators in San Francisco and New York City, who question whether the rentals are getting taxed properly. That hasn't stopped over $600 million of venture money from pouring in from Andreessen Horowitz and Amazon's Jeff Bezos. Investment house Piper Jaffrey estimates the company will see revenues of $675 million this year, up from $436 million last year, further fueling talk of an IPO this year or next.

"We are far bigger in Europe now than we are in the U.S. This concept has been growing faster there. Actually, over half of our business is now based in Europe." -Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb co-founder and CTO

Latest Special Reports

  • Top States 2016

    CNBC's annual study measures all 50 states on more than 60 different metrics.

  • People walk amongst aircraft exhibited on the tarmac during the opening of the International Paris Airshow at Le Bourget on June 15, 2015.

    The International Paris Air Show is celebrating its 52nd anniversary this year with the big movers and shakers in the aerospace and defense industry all attending the event.

  • International business and political leaders gather in Dalian, China for the 2017 instalment of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions.

Tech