Russia’s DST funds US alternative accommodations startup
DST, the top Russian Internet investment fund, will participate in a still-undisclosed round of financing in favor of alternative accommodations marketplace Airbnb, reports TechCrunch from unnamed sources. The round is being led by Andreessen Horowitz.
Founded in 2008, Airbnb is a San Francisco-based, fast-growing startup that presents itself as a “community marketplace for unique spaces” that “connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay.” The Airbnb website claims the company has booked as many as 1.6 million nights in 13,000 cities across 181 countries.
TechCrunch’s source said the investment round could have attracted as much as $100 million based on a valuation of $1 billion. The company raised just $7.8 million in its previous funding round.
If the deal is confirmed, Airbnb will be able to measure itself against HomeAway.com, the global vacation rental platform that raised a record $250 million in late 2008. In spite of significant differences, both sites target travelers seeking alternatives to hotels.
Three startups in the running on the Russian market
Airbnb, which offers a Russian version of its site, provides just 212 offers in Russia. HomeAway, which has no Russian version, has a mere seven vacation rentals in this huge country.
On the nascent local market , three local startups have been inspired by these US models with or without a few innovations of their own.
Founded in 2009, Travelrent.com looks to be a Russian language copycat of Airbnb. The site claims to generate over 6,000 visits per day and lists over 1,300 recent offers in Russia. Travelrent.com has developed a rather sophisticated IT platform as well as a network of affiliated sites.
Travelrent’s founder, Stanislav Frolov, has financed the project so far but has indicated he intends to raise funds from venture investors.
Focusing on short term apartment rentals, Apartator.ru launched its test version in April. The site distinguishes itself with a reverse auction system, with owners competing for clients.
The Apartator.ru team comes from Like Home, an important offline property management company operating in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Another project, Tvil.ru, was launched last February. Though its design still needs to be polished, the site offers advanced mapping and social functions. It works on a CPL basis.
Two other sites, Gorkvartira.ru and Kvartirka.su, work on a more traditional online classifieds model.
Update July 25, 2011
In its press release, Airbnb announced that the deal amounted to $112 million, bringing the company’s total funding to $119.8 million.