Jonathan Mildenhall steps down from Airbnb CMO role

Airbnb chief marketer Jonathan Mildenhall has reportedly stepped down from his role at the company. Mildenhall, according to a public Facebook post, will be departing to start his own marketing consulting firm with an eye to remedying pervasive issues in marketing.

“I am 50 and I probably have one last chapter of my career left, and I feel I could make a bigger contribution to the marketing industry,” Mildenhall told The Wall Street Journal.

The new firm, called 21st Century Brand, reportedly came to fruition after Mildenhall was courted by a slew of startups and VC firms seeking his marketing assistance. In his Airbnb tenure, he has been the talisman in building the brand’s profile and recently was part of the leadership that chose Wieden+Kennedy as the brand’s agency of record.

It was implied that the company, which will open next year, will work with no more than 20 partners — and Mildenhall hopes that it “will become of the world’s most influential marketing and brand consultancies.”

Long known as an advocate for diversity, Mildenhall, a Manchester native and former Coca-Cola marketer who started his advertising career at BBH in London, is not particularly bullish on consultancies and creativity or how Silicon Valley and the marketing field is approaching its own diversity conundrum.

“The industry has been talking about diversity and inclusion for as long as I’ve been a part of it, which is nearly 30 years. Yes, there have been advances with women in leadership positions, but progress has been way too slow,” he said in an exclusive interview with Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg in The Drum’s Cannes issue, guest-edited by Sandberg and other Facebook executives, Nicola Mendelsohn and Mark D’Arcy.

“We must all stop talking about this and start doing things that make it easier for under-represented groups to access high-profile jobs and industry positions.”

This story is developing