Airbnb wins bid to provide rooms at 2016 Olympics

The deal could give Airbnb legitimacy and leverage as it continues to fight against regulators.

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
March 25, 2015
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It has to be said that Airbnb is great at marketing. Since the beginning, the company has been able to attach itself to a big event and then use that to get awareness out about its services. In fact, the whole company can pretty much trace its roots back to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, which took place in Denver. The online home rental service made a name for itself by offering a much needed solution to a local hotel shortage. And so a phenomenon was born.

Now, the company has found itself partnered with a much bigger, buzzier and loftier event: the 2016 Olympics.

Airbnb has outbid other accommodation providers, in order to provide rooms for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, according to a report from Reuters on Wednesday. That includes both tourists coming to stay in the city for the games, as well as the athletes themselves.

Others bidding for the contract included companies like Hotel Urbano and Alugue Temporada.

The financial terms of the contract Airbnb is entering into with the Olympic Committee were not disclosed, though it is known the company will be providing 20,000 rooms for the event. Airbnb will also likely become a sponsor and partner for the Games.

VatorNews has reached out to Airbnb for confirmation, and more specifics of the deal, but the company was not available for comment at this time. We will update this story if we learn more.

This is a big deal for Airbnb, not only because it will likely make a lot of money, but also because it helps give the company, which has struggled against regulators and city governments, including New York, where the Attorney General subpoenaed Airbnb in 2013 over illegal listings. A judge threw out that subpoena in May of last year, but the fight is hard from over.

Airbnb was also operating illegally in San Francisco until the so-called "Airbnb law" was passed by The San Francisco Board of Supervisors in October, clearing the way for the company to legally operate, though with some caveats that will stop landlords from possibly indulging in some of the worst practices.

Officially becoming a partner, and sponsor, of the Olympics could be a potential game changer for the company going forward, giving it legitimacy and leverage against regulators.

Founded in 2008, the San Francisco-based company is now active in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries. Airbnb has raised $801 million in total funding to $801 million, including a $475 million roundin August, which valued the company at $10 billion.

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