The popular new travel site Airbnb has picked up $112 million in financing in a move that is designed to help the San Francisco-based company grow both locally and abroad.
Airbnb is a "community marketplace for unique spaces" that aids budget-conscious travelers in finding lodging anywhere from an apartment to a houseboat to a castle. It's a cross between backpacker staple couchsurfing.org and more traditional hotel-finding websites. The site allows participants to become hosts and make money by renting out their place, be it a city apartment, a country lodge, or anything in between.
The company plans to use the $112 million in Series B financing from investors Andreessen Horowitz, DST Global, and General Catalyst to enhance its local online community, to expand to new markets, and to hire more individuals internationally. This latest round of capital adds to the $7.2 million raised on behalf of Sequoia Capital and Greylock last November, bringing the total investment to $119.8 million.
"Over the past three years, we've built a community marketplace for unique properties and brought it into the mainstream and into almost every country on the planet," Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, said in a statement. "Today is a watershed moment -- both for Airbnb as a company and for our community -- that will enable us to touch new markets and expand our vision to make the world's most interesting and inspiring places accessible to our users."
Airbnb picked up steam back in May when Ashton Kutcher became the "strategic advisor" to the travel startup.
"For many, Ashton Kutcher is an actor and heart throb, but in the tech scene, he's made his mark as a branding and new media expert with an eye for great ideas and a fearless approach to new markets," Airbnb said in a May 25th blog post. "With his incredible wit and personality, Ashton Kutcher has shown the world the power social media has on emerging brands and in developing strong, passionate communities. With Ashton on board, we'll be working together to take our community engagement to the next level and expand our international presence to reach more people from different cultures all over the world."
Travelers book online, pay through PayPal, and contact the host directly to confirm check-in details. Meanwhile, Airbnb provides 24-hour support across the globe. After departing, travelers are encouraged to share their experiences by leaving a review and thus further validating the owner of the accommodation.
Airbnb has become the sleeper hit of the startup world. It's one of those companies that many well-heeled investors passed on in the early days because they thought that no one would want to open his or her home to strangers.
Over the past year, Airbnb claims the number of bookings through its site jumped to 2 million from 1 million in just four months. The company's Airbnb Social Connections, a social network for travelers, has grown to 54 million connections since the feature kicked off in May.
The company claims listings in over 8,000 cities and 166 countries that range from private apartments to private islands.