Airbnb, an online service that allows vacationers to find local residents willing to rent out rooms, has just made a big acquisition at an extremely crucial time.
Airbnb has just scooped up Crashpadder, a rival company from the United Kingdom that offers the same service, but at a smaller scale. At any other time this would just be a big company buying up its competition, but given that Airbnb did this now, it is quite a coup: it just took over its biggest local competitor only three months before the start of the London Olympics. This is going to mean big business for Airbnb this summer.
It's also a strategy that aligns with Airbnb's way of marketing. Recall that when Airbnb launched, it piggybacked on the Democratic National Convention to make itself relevant to all the travelers who needed rooms. "We looked for high-profile events," said Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, in an interview with VatorNews, explaining how the team focused on the political event in 2008, the year it was founded, so it could become relevant to a big story.
In like vein, San Francisco-based Airbnb seems to be gearing up for the Olympics with this acquisition, the details of which were not disclosed.
Some details about the acquisition, however, were provided by Crashpadder co-founders Stephen Rapoport and Dan Hil on the company's blog:
“Since our beginnings in London three years ago, the Crashpadder community has grown to over 7,000 hosts in 100 countries and 2,500 cities. We've met amazing people from all over the world, had inspiring experiences, and helped pioneer a new way to travel. Today, we are thrilled to announce that we've joined with Airbnb to continue building a global community. As part of the transition, we will automatically move your Crashpadder account to Airbnb. All of your account and listing information will be preserved. For security reasons, you will need to set a new Airbnb password upon moving your account. Simply click below to learn more and get started.”
This is not Airbnb’s first venture into European territory. In June of last year Airbnb, which is flush with cash, having raised $112 million from Andreessen Horowitz, DST Global and General Catalyst in July 2011, bought Accoleo, a German company specializing in the same business. Airbnb opened its first European office in Hamburg that month.
Today, the company operates in 19,000 cities, 192 countries, and has offices in 9 different cities, including London and Paris. Overall the site has booked over five million nights total, and bookings are up 500% from last year at this time. Despite being awarded “Breakout App” at the 2011 SXSW festival, Airbnb has not been without controversy, including an instance where a woman’s San Francisco apartment was robbed and vadalized by a Airbnb guest, forcing the company to issue an apology.
Airbnb did not return our request for comment on the story.