AirBnB should leverage Facebook's network

Bambi Francisco Roizen · September 28, 2009 · Short URL:

Vator Box gives AirBnB a thumbs up for novelty

This week, we take a look at AirBnB, a startup that wants to be the eBay of space by being the conduit for couch or bed rentals as well as entire apartments, hotel rooms or villas in Malaysia. AirBnB facilitates the transactions and takes a 10% booking fee, which it collects once the traveler checks in.

Noah Doyle, managing partner at early-stage venture firm Javelin Venture Partners, was our guest host for this episode, joining myself and Ezra Roizen, digital media investment banker and Vator Box regular. 

Here are our highlights:

- Co-founder Brian Chesky's pitch was excellent, entertaining and clear.

- AirBnB is a great alternative to staying at youth hostels. There could be a very social element to staying with people who share the same affinity. On the other hand, it could be a totally bad experience if the renter enjoys classical music and sleeping in early yet ends up in a house of where the heavy-metal band Anthrax is playing at all hours of the night. Renters should make sure to get all the details and AirBnB should have some way of ensuring users that those renting homes are credible.

- AirBnB should find a way to leverage the social graph on Facebook, much like Aardvark, the social question and answer service on top of Facebook. By layering this service on top of social networks, AirBnB solve the issue around credibility when renting from some unknown person.

- The service is similar to HomeAway and to some extent Zilok. The difference versus HomeAway is that AirBnB is going after the "floor" of the market (no pun intended). It's also far more focused than Zilok, which is a peer-to-peer lending site for everything, such as lawn mowers, electronics, etc.

- The timing may be right as it's the new barter economy. Additionally, on a typical night, a third of all U.S. hotel rooms go unused. So, there is opportunity to partner with hotels to provide more inventory to its members.

- OffBeat Guides, the personal travel guide, would be a good partner for distribution.

-  Would Noah invest? Here's his thoughts: This is one idea, where clearly they’re filling a gap. It might be easy to copy. But if they can move quickly to build their community of users, and lock up partnerships and build a moat around their business, that's positive. In terms of investment, it’s better fort them to bootstrap it. If they take money too early, they will be signing up for a high-risk growth pattern. At the early stage, it’s hard to build a strong investment thesis without knowing how big this market will be and how much bigger it will get beyond a small community.

Watch the rest for more highlights. 



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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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Joined Vator on is the “Ebay of space.” The online marketplace allows anyone from private residents to commercial properties to rent out their extra space. The reputation-based site allows for user reviews, verification, and online transactions, for which Airbnb takes a commission. As of June, 2009, the San Francisco-based company has listings in over 1062 cities in 76 countries.



Joined Vator on

Zilok is the online rental marketplace, where anyone can offer anything for rent to the community. By anything, we mean your digital camera, your drumset, your scooter, your snowboard, anything!

There are so many things we have but don't use all the time, the exact same things that neighbors will need once in a while. With Zilok, you can connect with these neighbors, make extra cash in the process, and help your community saving money.

Our mission statement is to support and develop peer-to-peer renting as a new, sustainable and community-driven way of consuming. By Reusing, Recycling and Renting you can help protect the environment and save natural resources. Every transaction is local.

We welcome people and rental businesses to list all possible rentals on our website. Our business model is commission based. Zilok is operating in four countries, the United States (San Francisco office), France (Paris office), Belgium (Brussels office) and the Netherlands (Amsterdam office). We've been awarded Site of the Week by PC Mgazine, best European startup at the Plugg Startup Rally, and featured in ABC 7, the New York Times, TechCrunch, Mashable, CNET, ...

Offbeat Guides


Joined Vator on

Offbeat Guides create personalized, up-to-date travel guides that cover over 30,000 travel destinations, using a combination of search technology and curation by both amateur and professional travel experts. Our guides scour the web to find the best, most up-to-date information about your destination. You can personalize the information you want based on your travel dates, preferences, and destination. The guides come with local maps, festivals and events going on while you're there, exchange rates, key phrases in the city's language, weather forecasts and more.

Travelers need reliable, accurate, and immediate information when planning a trip. Standard guidebooks are often 12 to 18 months out of date as soon as they hit the stores. Our information is the most up-to-date because we have an enormous technology base of spiders and crawlers that find the best information out on the internet, and combine it with information from established authors and thousands of locals who are always updating the information about where they live. We also believe strongly in Creative Commons, in which users can share, create and build information that is available for mixing and remixing into unique new applications. As well as Creative Commons licensed information, we also use proprietary content and professional authors, which makes for accurate and authoritative information in our guides. With Offbeat Guides, you can get your guide in electronic format that you print yourself, or we can create and ship you a printed guide just in time for your trip, with all the latest information packed inside.

Offbeat Guides is a technology and travel startup located in San Francisco. It was founded by Dave Sifry, the founder of multiple technology companies including Linuxcare and Technorati. Leveraging his management team's extensive experience in technology development and technology marketing, Offbeat Guides is using this knowledge and experience to advance travel publishing to a whole new level. 



Service provider

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Global advisory network for emerging businesses.



Noah Doyle

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Serial entrepreneur turned VC looking to support to outstanding teams building great companies.

Ezra Roizen

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Advisor-to and commenter-on emerging ventures

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