Airbnb rival Wimdu confirms cuts to international offices, refocus on Berlin

Alex Hofmann 2012-09-20 11

Wimdu

Wimdu, the Airbnb rival backed by the Samwer brothers’ Rocket Internet, is trimming down its international offices and moving some international staff into the company’s Berlin HQ.

The backdrop: tense competition in the market for online homestay and short term rental marketplaces. Wimdu and number one US-headquartered site Airbnb have both raised major funding rounds, and fellow Germany-based rival 9flats won support this year from Deutsche Telekom, spurring all three on the path to internationalisation. HouseTrip, based in London, Lausanne and Lisbon, is another major player…

Wimdu – fast growth can carry a cost

Wimdu raised $90million in summer 2011 from investors including Swedish bank AB Kinnevik and is aiming for €100m turnover in the next year, driven by 50,000 accomodations in more than 100 nations. After rumours in the last few days of a significant restructuring, the company confirmed – in a Vertical Media (Gründerszene and VentureVillage) exclusive – that international offices are currently being reduced and some staff relocated to Berlin. The company is not naming exact numbers affected.

Wimdu has overstretched in the past, letting about 50 staff go about a year ago. At the time, CEO Arne Bleckwenn blamed the mass lay-offs on the company’s rapid rate of growth – to over 400 staff members and more than a dozen offices in just one quarter.

running raceAirbnb’s in the lead so far– will be room for everyone? Image copyright familymwr

Wimdu, Airbnb, 9flats – how many will go the distance?

Airbnb and Stephan Uhrenbacher’s 9flats (which also had to shed staff members at one point) are likely to have played a part in business developments.

In January, Berlin-based 9flats gained a double-digit million investment from Deustche Telekom’s investment arm T-Venture as well as existing investors eVenture and Redpoint.

Shortly after that, media giant Axel Springer invested via a barter deal in the already well-funded Airbnb, including an advertising campaign in various Springer-owned publications and listings in real estate platform Immonet.

For accommodation currently on offer, the – up until now – smallest supplier of the three, 9flats, seems to have gained a small edge. With offices in Berlin, Valencia and now Toronto, following its recent acquisition of iStopOver, 9flats is noticeably leaner than Wimdu. Similar to Wimdu’s deal with Springer, 9flats can rely on Telekom daughter company ImmobilienScout24 for support.

Still the definitive market leader, Airbnb has 200,000 accommodation options in 192 countries and branches in San Francisco, London Paris, Barcelona, Sao Paulo, Copenhagen, Moscow, Hamburg, Berlin and Milan. Airbnb recently strengthened its position by preparing itself well for the Olympic Games in London, acquiring British competitor Crashpadder just in time to make the most of the extra visitors.

Does the market need three or more large international rivals in the long-term?

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