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Analysis

Tentacular Airbnb strikes again and buys “Gaets[.]com”

The lodging platform just announced the acquisition of Gaest.com, a Danish startup specialized in Coworking. This takeover would seem logical in light of the recent developments made to the coworking entity "Airbnb work". This news must also be put into perspective with respect to two current issues for "Air Bed and Breakfast": the ongoing legal battle over its activity, and recent developments in the coworking market.

Gaest: diversify the activity?

News from the front on the battle between Airbnb and the main European Cities.

A fight is underway between Airbnb and the town halls of the major European cities. The latter are trying to regulate the activity of the hosts, who support the platform, by implementing laws and the associated means of coercion, making it more difficult for apartments to be listed on the site. A struggle that already has its figures, such as the Mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau, from the housing rights movements, or Ian Brossat, communist deputy mayor for housing at the Paris City Hall, author of the book "Airbnb ou la ville ubérisée". This struggle that has already borne fruit, with the adoption of sometimes rather harsh regulations: in Amsterdam, for example, where it has become impossible to rent one' s main residence for more than 30 days per year.

Faced with this multiplication of legal barriers, the platform is first of all looking for a legal solution: to find the loophole so that the European Union can declare national regulations incompatible with EU law and thus cancel them. By using, for example, and this is one hypothesis among others, the European Services Directive of 2006. The second answer is, undoubtedly, the diversification of activity, to reduce the risks. Just look at the figures: between 2017 and 2018, 35,960 apartments were registered on the site in Paris; between 2018 and 2019, over the same one-year period, the increase was by only 582 apartments. Growth is slowing down, the inventory of apartments available for rent is becoming "finished" again, at least seems to be (re)becoming so.

Undoubtedly, it is the need for diversification that led to the announcement on January 25, 2019 of the acquisition of the Danish marketplace "Gaest[.].com"by the Californian giant. In any case it is one possible analysis.

Gaest is a classic marketplace: a hub linking places and customers; a person is looking for a place for a photo shoot, a professional meeting, the platform presents offers from hundreds of owners and takes a commission on the rental. It follows the Airbnb model, or level 1 of the collaborative economy. It is also a classic startup: rapid growth strategy, fundraising. According to "crunchbase", since its creation, the company created by Anders Boelskifte Mogensen has raised some €3.5 million to finance its growth. That said, the company is still young, with only 3,000 spaces available for rent, which is obviously a far cry from the 5 million listings claimed by Airbnb today (source: Airbnb). This figure will undoubtedly increase even further. To quote Airbnb CEO David Holyoke: "We dream of a world where everyone can share their workspace, and even in the longer term, their space for larger parties". A dream is already underway with the launch of the "events" page on the Airbnb website. Yet another way to diversification.

And its probably not going to stop. This was the main purpose of the merger between Airbnb and Hotel Tonight, the challenging champion of last-minute reservations. (why Airbnb wants to acquire hotel tonight).

Gaest: a purchase to "accelerate" coworking

This purchase of "Gaest" - the amount of the acquisition hasn’t been revealed - is also reflected in the current “coworking” market boom. The open space is becoming a marketplace. See all the information on the latest mergers and acquisitions in this article: who are the players in coworking today in France? For example, the merger between AccorHotels and Bouygues immobiliers, for the creation of "Nextdoor". Or the acquisition by Knotel of Deskeo, which currently has 20 spaces in Paris.

The acquisition of Gaest is not Airbnb's first action in this area of coworking and workspace rental. On September 5, the company, via a press release, had already given news of its platform launched in 2014 "Airbnb for work", claiming that "more than 700,000 companies have used the platform, including 300,000" that used "Airbnb for work" in addition to Airbnb itself. The site also announced the adaptation of Airbnb "experience" to its work platform with the implementation of team building.

With "Airbnb experiences", "Airbnb for work", "Airbnb event"... The Californian platform is constantly expanding and diversifying its offers. Gaest is therefore another step in this long list. This time with positioning in top-of-the-range coworking, as offered by the Danish platform. It should be noted that the Gaest platform will continue to operate, without entering directly under the Airbnb brand and on the platforms associated with it. It is therefore above all an investment and represents positioning for Airbnb towards this market which will undoubtedly continue to grow.

 

 

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