Reflections on Apartment List’s Growth from Founder John Kobs

It’s not common to witness full-cycle growth from start to finish. When early clients mature and evolve, it’s powerful to watch and experience.

We’d like to share some thoughtful reflections from a company that airCFO has long been supporting. Apartment List’s founder John Kobs insights have a lot to teach any founder setting out on his or her path to building a lasting community and legacy. Here are a few:


airCFO: We’d love to understand more about what inspired you to create Apartment List. What problem did you see that needed solving?

John Kobs: I was inspired by my own rental headaches in a tiny New York apartment to help over 790K families find homes, but it took many years to bring my dream to fruition.

AL is a company built on the promise of reinvention. Coming into this new era, I believe it is healthy for a company to continually grow, evolve, and re-evaluate what is needed at each stage. From my earliest days of user testing and client calls to hiring an incredible team of over 250 fearless AL’s across the world, we’ve grown exponentially. Our mission to deliver every renter a home they love has never wavered, nor has our vision of helping more families find homes than any other rental marketplace. 

 

airCFO: What was it like running a company from its inception through its rise?

JK: I’ve spent over one-third of my life as the CEO of AL. From humble beginnings in our first Palo Alto office to nearly going out of business a dozen times, to a nine-figure revenue organization; AL always bet on ourselves and on our team. We pivoted the business model countless times and made incredible connections on the way. I’m also eternally grateful to those who bet on us and had the perseverance to lead our Series A and B [funding rounds].

 

airCFO: What are the milestones you’re most proud of achieving for AL?

JK: Some of the moments that stand out most are:

  • More than 790,000 families have found homes on our platform since 2014. 
  • We raised over $170 million in capital from some of the most preeminent investors on the planet. 
  • 6 million units are under contract on our platform, meaning 13% of all the rental owners and managers in the USA trust us to help renters find homes in their communities. 
  • We modernized our product, pushed the industry, were the first to align incentives with a success-based revenue model, and were built entirely within the property management software ecosystem. 
  • AL pioneered an auction-based pricing model. 
  • We built a capital-efficient business and even in the face of a global pandemic, we achieved profitability. 

All that said, we couldn’t have done any of it without millions of renters and countless property managers and owners supporting us from our earliest days.


Here at airCFO, we are so proud to have been a part of Apartment List’s growth, supporting AL in its impressive work helping so many families find homes all over the country. We encourage you to keep your eye on both Apartment List and John Kobs to see what exciting things they do next.

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