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london olympics 2012
Summary:

Airbnb expects a ton of bookings during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, but it wasn’t the only game in town. So the U.S.-based startup is taking out some of the competition, with the acquisition of Crashpadder, which is its biggest competitor in the U.K. market.

Airbnb expects a ton of listings and bookings during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. But in the U.K., it’s not the only game in town. The U.S.-based startup is taking out some of the competition with the acquisition of Crashpadder, which is its biggest competitor in the U.K. market.

The acquisition is the latest piece of an aggressive international expansion that has been underway at Airbnb over the last year. Last summer, it acquired German competitor Accoleo and opened a European office in Hamburg. Since then, it has largely taken a build-versus-buy approach, opening regional offices throughout the world in places like London, Berlin, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Milan, Moscow, Paris and São Paulo.

Apparently the Olympics opportunity was too big to pass up, however, and Airbnb decided to boost inventory by swallowing up its closest competitor in the U.K. As part of the deal, Crashpadder will shut down, but hosts on its system will be able to list on the Airbnb.com site instead. Crashpadder currently has 1,700 listings in London, but there’s no way to tell how many will transition over to Airbnb, since that’s entirely up to the hosts. To entice them to join, Airbnb will extend its 24-hour customer service, £30,000 ($47,572) host guarantee and free professional photography for Crashpadder hosts.

In a blog post last week, Crashpadder said that London hosts typically charge between £35-£175 per night, depending on location, room quality and how many people they can accommodate. But as with any basic case of supply and demand, the amount that places listed wind up costing could vary pretty substantially.

During South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, for instance, anecdotal evidence suggests that some places were being booked at two or three times the normal rate. Granted, London is a much larger city, with a much greater supply of hotel accommodations. But for an event as large as the Olympics, there’s no telling how much some centrally located places will command.

While the Olympics should offer a huge short-term payoff to Airbnb, the bigger picture is that the San Francisco-based startup is increasingly an international business. About 75 percent of all its bookings have some international component — whether that’s U.S. users staying in international locales, international travelers booking lodging here, or international tourists staying in other international locations. Having a larger base of operations in London will surely help that growth.

  1. I just heard the news that Airbnb acquired Crashpadder. I follow the rental market very closely and found that over the past two years Crashpadder stuggered immensely to keep up with competion as well as to increase their inventory. I think this acquisition was based on acquiring talent in Rapoport and Dan because based on my knowledge Crashpadder was never a player in the industry. Although they were an original if you look at alexa or compete.com they never gained any trasaction as well as their inventory listings have not increased in over 15 months. I used to receive very awkward emails from Rapaport and Dan such as “yippity thanks for signing up” or very weird phrases. Crashpadder also had a terrible UI and their original green design color was a major turnoff. Airbnb will not benefit nor get any more listings from this acquisition. I know for a fact. Credit Rapoport and Dan for being solid programmers but outside that their company, crashpadder, was nothing. Go ahead and check out compete.com and alexa.com to see how Airbnb.com has very little traffic compared to a HOT internet company like Pinterest and Groupon. Also, you will see that crashpadder has no traffic.

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  2. Thanks for the post about Crashpadder, it wonder how much they paid for it. I wonder why they bought it if they were not a player in the industry. The traffic to the crashpadder site is 1 thing but it does not show turnover or repeat customers, these traffic calculating websites you mention are not accurate indicators of the value of a site. I wonder why airbnb would be so stupid to buy it if it was not of any value. Do you know how much money crashpadder made? Were crashpadder VAT registered? Airbnb seem to have registered a UK ltd company and they have offices in the UK, they are not VAT registered, maybe because they take all the money through the US. Airbnb have just been told to collect 15% tax in San Francisco, this will wipe out the 3% host fee and 12% mark up to guests they charge, unless they plan to charge this on top this will mean they make no money in that city! It’s only a matter of time before all other countries, states, cities etc start to impose their tax rules on Airbnb and I would imagine that 120 million will be eaten up pretty fast with legal and accountancy fees. It’s going to be a logistical nightmare for them.

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