On behalf of my co-founders, our company, and the global community we serve, it was an honor and a privilege to participate in the Olympic Torch Run in Brazil this week.
I joined four fellow Airbnb hosts from around the world, where we each got the chance to take part in the running and then passing of the flame throughout the relay. My portion was in the seaside town of Macaé, in the state of Rio de Janeiro and just north of the city of Rio. The sun had set and street lights illuminated the road. Thousands of residents mobbed the dark streets, waving and cheering as each torch runner jogged by. It was insane. I told myself there was nothing to be nervous about. But as I stood on the side of the road with my Airbnb team members, a massive entourage of Olympic fans, security, photographers, bright lights, and the flame loudly approached. My nerves increased. I switched on the gas to my torch and it made a clicking noise. My grip tightened around the metal handle. My world shrunk to a single goal, getting this torch to the next runner fully intact. Suddenly, I found myself in the middle of the street surrounded by blasting party music and hundreds of people yelling at the top of their lungs. Holding out my unlit torch to the approaching runner, it picked up the flame and I was off... at jogging pace, the massive security and vehicle entourage close behind. The flame burned big and bright and I could feel the heat on the right side of my face. It lit up the dark street as the roving crowd of townspeople took photos and raced alongside the torch. Kids on skateboards. Parents running with toddlers bouncing up and down on their shoulders. People waved enthusiastically from balconies and rooftops. The spirit of the Olympics was alive and well in Macaé. And during those few hundred meters, I began to understand the ability of the Games to fill people with an uncommon and uplifting kind of joy. I approached the next runner and the flame continued its journey to the Opening Ceremony taking place today. I was humbled to play a small part with our hosts in helping the flame travel its path to the event that brings nations together, much like our community does on a daily basis. The torch will live at our San Francisco office. Obrigado, Rio 2016.