E-commerce company Airbnb, began in 2008 in San Francisco as a house-sharing website, helping people to find a place to sleep for the night when local hotels were sold out. Today Airbnb has over 100,000 listings in 192 countries and has expanded to incorporate other rentals such as parking, storage, bikes, cars etc.
The video below sums up Airbnb’s basic concept:
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, intends Airbnb to become an online marketplace enabling small businesses and entrepreneurs to participate in what he refers to as the “sharing economy.” Current users are typically independent and have an average age of 35 years old. It is hoped that Airbnb can eventually enable its users to locate or offer almost anything they want to rent, while managing the transactions through Airbnb’s online transaction management system. Chesky, recognizes that Airbnb’s scope is potentially endless, though caution is needed:
The current issue of Fortune magazine suggests that Airbnb may even have the potential to become the next eBay. Indeed, this e-commerce company has made money from day one, by charging a commission fee of 6 – 12% on each transaction. The company has certainly been successful in winning the support of high-profile investors including actor Ashton Kutcher and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman.
Whether or not Airbnb can realize their vision will like any other company be based on their ability to outpace their competition. Imitation websites for bikes, ride shares, office space and other things have emerged and as the company diversifies it will also face competition from other websites that allow small businesses to have online storefronts such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy. Airbnb hopes to differentiate themselves by paying close attention to detail to all aspects of their service, by being user-driven, and by focusing on ease of use with their 3-step buyer and seller transaction process.
Interested in learning how to use Airbnb? Check out the video below: