In a candid revelation, will.i.am, the frontman of the Black Eyed Peas, admitted missing out on a substantial financial gain by declining an opportunity to invest in Airbnb. Sharing insights on the High Performance podcast hosted by Jake Humphrey, will.i.am discussed his investment strategy and the valuable lessons learned from passing on the chance to back the then-startup business.
Reflecting on the decision, will.i.am acknowledged, “I couldn’t see Airbnb. There was an opportunity I had to invest — this is before they launched.” He highlighted the impact of being anchored in one’s perceptions, stating that, in this instance, it limited his ability to grasp the full scope of Airbnb’s potential. The artist revealed that his perception, influenced by luxury travel experiences at the time, hindered him from recognizing Airbnb’s groundbreaking model.
When questioned about calculating the potential monetary loss from rejecting the investment opportunity, will.i.am responded with a dejected laugh, emphasizing the magnitude of the missed financial opportunity.
Despite this setback, will.i.am has been an active investor, securing stakes in various companies, including OpenAI and Runaway. Notably, he was an early investor in Beats By Dre, a company that achieved a landmark $3.2 billion acquisition by Apple in 2014.
Airbnb, which will.i.am passed on, attracted attention from early investors like Ashton Kutcher and Madonna’s manager, Guy Oseary, who were among the initial backers of Uber. The missed Airbnb investment serves as a reminder of the uncertainties in the dynamic landscape of business and technology.
Acknowledged by the World Economic Forum for his contributions to humanitarian causes, will.i.am has been an advocate for discussions on artificial intelligence (AI) and investment. In a previous speech alongside actor Leonardo DiCaprio, he emphasized the need for substantial investments in education, expressing concern about the widening gap between advancements in machine learning and the accessibility of educational tools for the general population.
Throughout his career, will.i.am has shown a keen interest in AI, investing in companies such as Sensiya and launching his own AI platform named FYI. As the artist navigates the world of investments and technology, the revelation about missing out on Airbnb underscores the unpredictable nature of investment decisions and the evolving landscape of the tech industry.
Derek Chan – Editor