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Peter Thiel to put $150 million into Airbnb?

Funds would more than double Airbnb's total raised; valuation would be $2.5 billion

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
October 20, 2012 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/2b13

Peter Thiel is a venture capitalist, a member of the PayPal Mafia, where he was co-founder and CEO, but he is perhaps best known as the earliest outside investor in Facebook. His $500,000 investment in 2004 recently netted him roughly $406 million when he recently sold over 20 million of his Facebook shares.

So now that Thiel is a very, very rich man, what is he going to do with all that money? If you guessed that he would consider a huge investment in another company, you were right!

Thiel is reportedly in talks with Airbnb about a $150 million investment in the company, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. To this point Airbnb has raised $120 million for a $1.3 billion valuation, including a $112 million in Series B financing from Andreessen Horowitz, DST Global and General Catalyst.

Thiel’s investment would not only more than double the company’s total fundraising, but it would bring its valuation to $2.5 billion. Some of Airbnb’s existing investors, including Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital, are also expected to participate in the round.

The San Francisco-based company, which launched in August 2008, has seen substantial growth.

In June, the company hit a new milestone with 10 million guest nights booked through the platform.  That’s double the five million booked as of January 2012, and two million in June 2011. 

Airbnb also announced that the time that it was booking a new night stay every two seconds, a rate that has doubled over the previous five months. Airbnb currently has listings active in more than 19,000 cities and 192 countries.

In September, Airbnb also announced that more than a quarter of its traffic comes from mobile users.  And more than half of those mobile users are accessing the service via an iOS device.

The Airbnb mobile app has exceeded one million downloads, and the company said that every five seconds, someone sends an Airbnb message via mobile.  In August, more than 530,000 messages were sent via mobile.

With growth like that, Airbnb seems like a wise investment, especially for someone with cash to burn, like Thiel.

Who is Peter Thiel?

Peter Thiel, who was co-founder and CEO of PayPal, is considered a member of the PayPal Mafia, a group of "superhero entrepreneurs and angel investors," as Vator CEO Bambi Francisco called them when she sat down with David Sacks, founder and CEO of Yammer, last week for the first of a newly-launched series of Startup Sessions.

Each member of the PayPal Mafia were either founders or early employees of e-commerce service PayPal. All of them went on to found their own tech companies, as well as fuel the next-generation of startups.

Bambi opened up the Startup Session with a funny slideshow, comparing each member of the PayPal Mafia with their historical counterpart.

As an "unconventional thinker" and the guy who you never know what he is going to say, Peter Thiel is the Socrates of the group. Fittingly, Thiel, who was co-founder and CEO of PayPal, majored in philosophy in college. 

At Vator VentureShift last year, Thiel told the crowd, "The contrarian thing is not to be with the crowd, or fashionably against the crowd, but to think."

As Sacks points out, Socrates was forced to drink poison for his heresy, but, as Bambi put it, "he will be controversial always."

Thiel is also the Founder and President of Clairum Capital Management and Managing Partner at The Founders Fund.

Airbnb could not be reached for comment.

(Image source: http://babysharkminorityreport.wordpress.com)


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