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Peter Thiel close to major Airbnb investment

Reuters reports that Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel is close to investing about $150 million at a $2.5 billion valuation in vacation sharing startup Airbnb. Thiel netted $400 million this year when he cashed out his stake in Facebook.

Airbnb is gearing up for a major fight with vacation sharing competitors Wimdu and 9flats. The fight is getting intense in Europe, where Wimdu and 9flats are based, and where over half of Airbnb’s listings are.

But a recent analysis of global search volume shows that Airbnb is still far outpacing it’s European competitors, and growing in terms of users trying to track down a vacation sharing site. While the search volume for 9flats and Wimdu remains relatively flat. I believe that peer-to-peer vacation sharing will wind up a near monopoly since all the value will gravitate toward the company with a critical mass of listings, a bit how like broad social media is fairly limited to Facebook. That’s particularly true here where not much distinguishes any of these brands.

So the question for the financial backers of Wimdu and 9flats is how long do they finance their respective startups, hoping they can compete in this rough environment. If you ask Peter Thiel, he’d probably say, not much longer. Since $150 million is a ton of capital right now, money that will allow Airbnb to start locking up the market.