Graduates from Gwinnett high school receive Airbnb stocks from alum

Joe Gebbia, a Brookwood High School alumnus and co-founder of Airbnb, was the keynote speaker at his alma mater's 2022 commencement ceremony. He gave each graduate 22 shares of Airbnb stock. (Courtesy of Gwinnett County Public Schools)

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Joe Gebbia, a Brookwood High School alumnus and co-founder of Airbnb, was the keynote speaker at his alma mater's 2022 commencement ceremony. He gave each graduate 22 shares of Airbnb stock. (Courtesy of Gwinnett County Public Schools)

Each graduate received 22 shares of the company

The 886 seniors who graduated from Gwinnett County’s Brookwood High School didn’t just cross the commencement stage this week to receive diplomas.

They entered the next phase of their lives with seed money — in the form of Airbnb stock — to invest in their dreams.

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The stocks came from Joe Gebbia, a co-founder of Airbnb, the keynote speaker at Brookwood’s commencement and possibly the wealthiest alumnus of the Snellville school.

Gebbia’s surprise gift to each student in the class of 2022 was 22 shares of Airbnb stock. From Wednesday night to Thursday afternoon, the stock price had increased by about $4 to $114. That made the value of Gebbia’s gift about $2,500 per student and more than $2.2 million total.

“I would like to give you a piece of my dream to help inspire yours,” Gebbia said at the Wednesday event. “It comes with a small request. When you have a doubt about yourself, your dreams or whether you’re capable of achieving them, tell yourself, ‘Yes, I can.’”

He ended with some additional advice: “Don’t spend it all on crypto.”

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Gebbia graduated from Brookwood in 2000 and has donated to the school’s arts and athletics programs. He was involved in visual arts at the school and also ran cross country. He previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that those experiences and support from coaches and teachers were essential to his success as an entrepreneur.

He co-founded short-term rental company Airbnb in 2008, and Gebbia’s net worth is now estimated to be $7.8 billion. Along with his work on the business side of Airbnb, he is chairman of the company’s philanthropic arm, which provides housing following disasters and emergencies, according to a news release from the district.