We’re thrilled to welcome Ellie Mertz, Vice President of Finance at Airbnb, to the Faire Board of Directors as Independent Director and Chair of the Audit Committee. Ellie brings over 20 years of experience building finance organizations and leading corporate planning for world-class companies through periods of high growth.
After joining Airbnb in 2013, Ellie now leads strategic finance, analytics, investor relations, and corporate development at the company. During her tenure, Airbnb has raised more than $10 billion in equity and debt financing and scaled revenue from $100 million to $6 billion. Ellie played a pivotal role in helping Airbnb navigate the pandemic, resulting in the company’s highly successful public offering in December 2020. Prior to joining Airbnb, Ellie served as Vice President of Finance at Netflix, where she led financial planning and investor relations.
Over the past year, Faire has crossed some incredible milestones – from launching in 17 new countries across the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia, to growing our community to nearly 600,000 customers, to exceeding $1 billion in annual volume. As we continue to scale and find new ways to serve our customers, Ellie’s expertise and partnership will play a significant role in our future success.
To dig a little deeper, we asked Ellie a few questions related to her career and interest in Faire. Please join us in welcoming Ellie!
What has been the biggest learning moment throughout your career?
I’ve learned more from crises than I’ve ever learned from organic success. It’s easy to feel pride and confidence when things are going great. But, I’ve found it’s the tough times that really test, teach, and build leadership and culture.
I experienced this a decade ago at Netflix when we transitioned from DVD to streaming. Subscribers were outraged and we lost over 70% of market cap in a matter of months. More recently at Airbnb, we were on the cusp of filing our S-1 in March 2020 when the pandemic hit and we lost nearly 80% of our business in a matter of weeks.
In both cases, I learned first-hand that leadership is not about hoping for the best in bad circumstances. Instead, it is about acknowledging the situation (as bad as it may be!), moving forward with rapid, measured, and decisive action, and creating laser focus on the things that really matter. I believe that a crisis is a moment to step up and learn what you, your team, and your company is really made of.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Over the course of my 20-year-plus career, I’ve either been extremely wise – or more likely lucky – in choosing great companies to work for. As I reflect on the good fortune of having the opportunity to work for two iconic global consumer brands, I’ve benefited from a few lessons that I give to those who work for me, and that I would have given to myself 10 years ago:
- Join organizations with products that drive the impact you are passionate about
- Seek out people to work for, and with, that inspire you and that you can learn from
- Make career choices that prioritize products and people ahead of title and hierarchy
If you could open your own retail shop, what would it be called and what would you sell?
I love high-quality paper products. In a world of endless texts, emails, and slacks, there is nothing more personal and thoughtful than a friend or family member that makes the effort to seek out and mail the perfect greeting card to commemorate an occasion or tell you how they feel. I love a heavy card stock (the thicker, the better!) and finding that perfect message.
So, I’d likely open a craft card store. We’d only sell cards laden with great wit, humor, and sarcasm. Nothing cheesy or too sentimental. I’d call it, “You’ve got REAL mail.”
I’m passionate about helping businesses scale. Nearly a decade ago, what attracted me to join Airbnb was the prospect of helping anyone create a business out of their homes through hosting. In creating an online global marketplace that matches guests with Hosts, we’ve created incredible economic empowerment for millions of Hosts.
In a very similar vein, I love that Faire helps both independent retailers and brands find each other, and in doing so, grow their businesses. The Faire marketplace truly empowers entrepreneurs and allows them to leverage technology and scale that was previously out of reach.
More about Ellie:
Ellie is currently the Vice President of Finance at Airbnb. Airbnb was born in 2007 when two Hosts welcomed three guests to their San Francisco home, and has since grown to 4 million Hosts who have welcomed more than 1 billion guest arrivals in almost every country across the globe. Every day, Hosts offer unique stays and one-of-a-kind activities that make it possible for guests to experience the world in a more authentic, connected way.
Ellie has an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, an M.A. in History and a B.A. in Science Technology & Society from Stanford University, and an M.I.A. from Columbia University.
Ellie resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and 3 young children.