Times Group Checks into Airbnb, Builds Partnership
Bengaluru: Airbnb has entered into a strategic partnership with The Times Group in a move aimed at expanding its operations in India and building a more localised network. The Times Group, which publishes this newspaper, will also invest an undisclosed amount in the accommodation sharing platform, which is estimated to be worth over $25 billion (.`1.65 lakh crore). “The partnership comes as part of Airbnb’s plans to focus on developing the Indian travel market. The Times Group will drive awareness of Airbnb accommodations, and help Airbnb create a truly localised presence for India, leveraging (its) vast network of media and operational resources,” the companies said.
The alliance was stitched through Times Global Partners, an entity which helps with the launch and expansion of emerging global digital companies in India. It has also partnered with news portal Huffington Post and digital learning player Coursera.
Times Internet, the digital arm of the group, is an investor in Uber. “We are excited to partner with Airbnb to transform the way Indians travel,” said Satyan Gajwani, MD of Times Internet.
“We will provide support on operations, hiring, strategy and advertising, to make Airbnb’s entry and operations in India as effecti- ve as possible,” he said. Last year Airbnb appointed Amanpreet Bajaj, cofounder of LetsBuy which was acquired by Flipkart, as country manager for India.
India’s outbound travel market is expected to be worth $40 billion by 2020. Airbnb estimates that outbound travel from India grew by over 185% in 2015, according to a post on its website. It is this travel market that the company is looking to tap. Airbnb was founded by CEO Brian Chesky, Chief Product Officer Joe Gebbia and CTO Nathan Blecharczyk in 2008. Initially starting out as Airbedandbreakfast, the team targeted cities in the US where big events caused shortage of accommodation.
Since then, Airbnb has expanded to more than 34,000 cities in some 190 countries. The company has raised nearly $2.4 billion in funding from top Silicon Valley VC investors Like Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz.
In key foreign markets it has roped in local investors. In China, it brought on board China Broadband Capital, Sequoia China and Hillhouse Capital. “We are excited about the opportunity that India presents, and to have one of the most respected partners in The Times Group. We are working on adapting our product for the Indian market so that Indian travellers can live like a local anywhere in the world,” said Blecharczyk.
CHECKING IN Satyan Gajwani (left), Managing Director of Times Internet, with Nathan Blecharczyk, Cofounder of Airbnb