Working in software development and design, we are often required to ship one-off solutions. Sometimes we’re working within time constraints and sometimes we just haven’t yet agreed upon a path forward. These one-off solutions aren’t inherently bad, but if they aren’t built upon a solid foundation, we eventually find ourselves having to pay back accrued technical and design debts.
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In November 2012, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Airbnb partnered with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to offer free housing for persons displaced by the storm. Airbnb built a microsite for this effort alone where victims register for housing and meet property owners with free housing. Additionally, Airbnb waived all service fees associated with these listings while maintaining the Host Guarantee for all properties listed.
Violations occurring over a 4½ year period—from October 1993 to July 1998—targeted American Airlines for using high-sulfur fuel in motor vehicles at 10 major airports around the country. Under the federal Clean Air Act high sulfur fuel cannot be used in motor vehicles. American Airlines promptly identified and corrected these violations of the Clean Air Act.
American Airlines' wastewater treatment plant recycles water used at the base to wash aircraft, process rinse water tanks, and irrigate landscape. That alone has saved almost $1 million since 2002. In addition to that, American Airlines has also won the award for the reduction of hazardous waste that saved them $229,000 after a $2,000 investment. A bar code system is used to track hazardous waste. It has led to reduction of waste by 50 percent since 2000.
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It’s a nickname Isom likes, he told me last month at Skift Global Forum, because he believes D0 — that’s airline speak for flights that leave on time — is the most important metric for operations. He became animated speaking about the “choreography” required for punctual departures, from what happens at ticketing counters to fueling, catering, and cleaning.
We started by auditing and printing out many of our designs, both old and new. Laying the flows side by side on a board, we could see where and how the experiences were breaking and where we needed to start making changes. We figured that the best way to begin was by tackling issues head on. Each of us focused on a screen or product area to redesign, And we established a few principles to guide us with these individual designs:
• Boeing 787-8: Fully lie-flat seats manufactured by Zodiac Seats France and designed for American Airlines with direct aisle access in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone configuration with front-facing and rear-facing seats. Seat length: 77 inches (196 cm). Equipped with a 16-inch (41 cm) touchscreen monitor and touchscreen handset, two universal AC power outlets, and USB ports.
To help fund the site, the founders created special edition breakfast cereals, with presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain as the inspiration for "Obama O's" and "Cap'n McCains". In two months, 800 boxes of cereal were sold at $40 each, which generated more than $30,000 for the company's incubation. It also got the company noticed by computer programmer Paul Graham, who invited the founders to the January 2009 winter training session of his startup incubator, Y Combinator, which provided them with training and $20,000 in funding in exchange for a small interest in the company. With the website already built, they used the $20,000 Y-Combinator investment to fly to New York City to meet users and promote the site. They returned to San Francisco with a profitable business model to present to West Coast investors. By March 2009, the site had 10,000 users and 2,500 listings.