Times Group Checks into Airbnb, Builds Part­ner­ship

The Economic Times - - Disruption: - Our Bureau

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

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