How AirBnB stole the startup spotlight

logoNow that Groupon has filed its IPO, the geo-social-e-commerce scene needs a new favorite. And AirBnB is ready and willing to claim that spot. The site combines social media with vacation rentals to create a community of home owners and travelers who want to make renting a space easier. Its simple interface and focus on renters’ reputations make it user friendly without being unprofessional, and investors are taking notice. The company recently led a $100 million round of funding that has skyrocketed it to a $1 billion valuation. It’s growth can’t be stifled, and the Washington Post reports that “on any given night in New York there are more people staying in homes via AirBnB than there are rooms in the biggest hotel in Manhattan.” It didn’t get there off luck and prayer: AirBnB has clawed its way to this position, with some less than ethical practices and plenty of business savvy.

It beat Craigslist at its own game

Let’s be honest, it’s looking a lot like AirBnB has Craigslist to thank for some (maybe a lot) of its success. The media has picked up on that fact that the hot new startup farmed the listings site to gather its own clients. Dave Gooden, a real estate exec, recently blogged that he believes AirBnB created multiple Gmail accounts to spam users posting their own vacation rentals on Craigslist and convince them to use AirBnB instead.

AirBnB scamIt’s plainly obvious that there are a slew of identical postings on Craiglist and AirBnB, and that those on Craiglist encourage viewers to check them out on the alternative site. Tnooz reports that the social vacation rentals site has copped to the unsavory business tactic, saying “rogue” salesmen were to blame. AirBnB also claims this team’s methods were “largely ineffective.”

Whether or not this is true or just a quick cover-up, AirBnB has definitely infiltrated the vacation rentals section of Craigslist and apparently found itself a good foundation for its listings. It can say it’s sorry for how some of its sales team acted and protest innocence – either way, it was truly effective and no one is going to stop using or keep from investing in AirBnB because of these actions.

Aggressive international plans

In a Groupon-like move, AirBnB isn’t settling for national exposure. “This year is about international growth. I mean, some of our biggest cities are in Europe and South America, and they are just starting to emerge. China and Asia are really interesting to us. It’s about localizing the site and making it really easy, bringing the simplicity that we brought for people in the United States to these other countries,” co-founder Joe Gebbia recently told GigaOm. And the company isn’t wasting any time making good on those promises: TechCrunch reports that just this week, AirBnB acquired Accoleo, a German website that provides vacation rentals. The fact that many international travelers go the way of hostels when hoofing it across the globe doesn’t hurt either. The site is becoming a viable alternative to this.

This is exactly what AirBnB needs to do if it’s serious about having a significant international reach. There are some serious competitors here, including 9Flats, which has a remarkably similar UI to AirBnB. But this type of aggressive strategy, coupled with the site’s 800-percent growth and impressive fundraising, could easily pay off.

Doing social right

socialAirBnB, like generally every e-commerce site, has social features. But it’s doing them right instead of just throwing Twitter integration on its site or letting you comment on photos. It’s not a vacation rentals site that also happens to have a social network. It’s a vacation rentals site that uses social networking to involve users and keep them invested. Your profile is what makes you an attractive option to those looking to rent as well as those renting, and your reputation becomes important, thus making users more involved in the site. Wanting those good recommendations means consumers are more likely to build some sort of loyalty to AirBnB when it comes to your rental needs. It’s this type of peer-to-peer e-commerce site that’s doing so well: GetAround is a great example, which is a similar service that rents cars.

Social Media

A quick swipe will soon let you keep bingeing YouTube on mobile devices

The YouTube mobile app has a new, faster way to browse: Swiping. Once the update rolls out, users can swipe to go to the next (or previous) video in the recommended list, even while viewing in full screen.

It's not all free money. Here's what to know before you try to mine Bitcoin

Mining Bitcoin today is harder than it used to be, but if you have enough time, money, and cheap electricity, you can still turn a profit. Here's how to get started mining Bitcoin at home and in the cloud.

Stop dragging windows on your Mac. Here's how to use Split View to multitask

The latest iterations of MacOS offer a native Split View feature that can automatically divide screen space between two applications. Here's how to use Split View on a Mac, adjust it as needed, and how it can help out.

Keep your laptop battery in tip-top condition with these handy tips

Learn how to care for your laptop's battery, how it works, and what you can do to make sure yours last for years and retains its charge. Check out our handy guide for valuable tips, no matter what type of laptop you have.

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.
Social Media

Twitter extends its new timeline feature to Android users

Twitter users with an Android device can now quickly switch between an algorithm-generated timeline and one that shows the most recent tweets first. The new feature landed for iPhone users last month.
Social Media

YouTube to crack down on dangerous stunts like the ‘Bird Box’ challenge

YouTube already bans content showing dangerous activities, but new rules published by the site go into greater detail regarding potentially harmful challenges and pranks, including certain blindfold- or laundry detergent-based stunts.
Social Media

Nearly 75 percent of U.S. users don’t realize Facebook tracks their interests

Did you know Facebook tracks your interests, including political and multicultural affiliations? According to a recent Pew study, 74 percent of adult users in the U.S. have no idea Facebook keeps a running list of your interests.

It’s back! Here’s how to switch to Twitter’s reverse chronological feed

Twitter has finally brought back the reverse chronological feed, allowing you to see your feed based on the newest tweets, rather than using Twitter's algorithm that shows what it thinks you want to see. It's easy to switch.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.
Social Media

Twitter suffers privacy scare as bug reveals tweets of protected accounts

If you set your Twitter account to private and you have an Android device, you'd better check your settings now. Twitter says it's just fixed a four-year-old bug that flipped the privacy switch to make the account public.

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Social Media

Spice up your Instagram videos by adding your top tunes to the soundtrack

Have you ever taken a beautiful video, only to have it ruined by some jerk in the background yelling curse words? Here's a list of apps you can use to add your own music to Instagram posts as well as your Story.