airbnb

Airbnb has held a first close on its enormous new funding round, according to Fortune.

According to the article, multiple sources close to the company say that Airbnb, which rose to fame as the vacation-rental marketplace disrupting the traditional hotel industry, closed at least US$555M at a staggering 30 billion dollar valuation.  The company plans to raise up to US$850M in this latest round, which follows on the heels of a $1B debt financing round in June 2016, and a $1.5B round the year before.

Google Capital and Technology Crossover Ventures led Airbnb’s latest round, according to sources familiar with the deal.  Unlike GV (formerly Google Ventures), Google Capital is a division that invests in later-stage private companies.

This latest round of funding makes Airbnb the second most highly-valued private tech company in the United States, second only to taxi arch-nemesis Uber (valued at a dizzying $68B).  Rumour has it that Airbnb has more than enough cash on hand – but is raising money in case of new capital requirements or in case an eventual IPO is delayed.

That’s not to say that the company will sit by as the money rolls in.  Last month, Airbnb announced its intention to experiment with small-scale hospitality projects that could eventually become larger company initiatives – such as the opening of a community centre in a small town in Japan.  The experiment attracted interest from smaller towns around the world in locations as diverse as China, Korea, Spain, France, and others.  Airbnb also launched its ‘experiences’ initiative, which involves paying locals to guide tours for guests staying in Airbnb accommodations.