Expedia acquires 2 home-sharing startups as Airbnb rivalry heats up

The deals give the travel technology company control of short-term rental startups Pillow and ApartmentJet

Expedia has acquired two apartment-sharing startups in a move that positions the global travel technology company as a competitor to Airbnb.

The deals, for which terms were not disclosed, give Expedia control of Pillow and ApartmentJet, two short-term rental startups. The company, which spun out of Microsoft in 1996 as a site for plane ticket and hotel bookings, has gradually shifted into the short-term home rental industry.

“Demand for short-term rentals in U.S. urban destinations has been growing impressively over the past several years,” said Mark Okerstrom, president and CEO of Expedia Group, in a statement issued Friday. “In order to be able to deliver our customers what they are asking for while at the same time promoting responsible renting, Expedia Group is committed to delivering solutions that give urban building owners, managers and communities control and transparency over short-term rentals.”

Pillow focuses on non-owner tenants interested in leasing their apartments. ApartmentJet provides background checks and insurance coverage for owners of multifamily properties.

The deal marks Expedia’s latest step toward becoming a one-stop shop travel booker. In 2015, the company acquired vacation rental startup Homeaway for $3.9 billion. Since then, HomeAway has continued to operate under its name and, with Expedia’s investments, tallied more than 1.7 million listings in vacation hubs and other cities.

The latest acquisitions “will contribute to HomeAway’s ability to add an even broader selection of accommodations to its marketplace,” Expedia executives wrote in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Launched in 2008, Airbnb has grown rapidly as an online marketplace and hospitality service accessible through websites and mobile apps. In 2017, the San Francisco-based company reported $2.6 billion in revenue but has faced litigation in cities, including New York City, for alleged violations of “multiple dwelling laws.”

Email Veronika Bondarenko