Not too long ago we published an article talking about the money flowing into our industry. Now, Wimdu, an online vacation rental portal, has raised $90 millionfrom Germany-based Rocket Internet and Sweden-based Kinnevik to keep the company going as it is taking more listings and customers away from main competitor Airbnb.com and other sites, such as HomeAway.com and VRBO.com.
Sales of vacation rentals grew about 9% to $26.4 billion from 2007 to 2010 according to a 2009 estimate by travel research firm PhoCusWright. As more vacationers start to explore rental options, more investors are drawn to vacation rental companies.
On the other hand, Airbnb raised at least $100 million in May, but they are feeling competitive pressure. According to TechCrunch, a technology news site, Airbnb has been sending out an email earlier this month to users warning them about “impostor websites”. In the email we can read: “A new type of scam has been brought to our attention: Airbnb clones posing as competition. We’ve discovered that these scam artists have a history of copying a website, aggressively poaching from their community, then attempting to sell the company back to the original.”
The email doesn’t mention any names, but TechCrunch speculates that Airbnb is probably referring to Wimdu and Chinese website Airizu.com as the three websites look almost identical. Also, the people that founded Wimdu and Airizu, the Samwer brothers, have a history of creating European versions of popular American Internet companies. They created and sold Alando.de, similar to eBay in 1999 and CityDeal, a Groupon clone to Groupon last year.
At Barefoot, provider of property management software, we are following the development and wonder what will happen next. Will Airbnb buy Wimdu and Airizu just to get them out of the way, or will they try to take legal action? What do you think? Let us know.