Airbnb made its first acquisition as a publicly traded company, in a deal valued at just under $200 million, sources familiar with the deal told CNBC.
The startup is called Gameplanner.AI and has been in “stealth mode” since its founding in 2020. Startups in stealth mode operate out of the public eye for a variety of reasons, including protecting intellectual property and avoiding distractions. According to Airbnb, Gameplanner.AI will accelerate some of Airbnb’s AI projects.
Gameplanner.AI was co-founded by Adam Cheyer, one of the founders of Siri. He worked with Steve Jobs when Siri was acquired by Apple. Cheyer later co-founded Viv Labs, which is the basis of Samsung’s voice assistant.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said generative AI will fundamentally change the platform, saying he wants to use AI as a “travel concierge” that learns about users over time and improves the travel experience. For example, houses that provide users with appropriate rooms and services.
The deal is Airbnb’s first acquisition since 2019, and could change Chesky’s M&A strategy and draw Wall Street’s attention to whether Airbnb becomes a more attractive acquisition. The company is profitable on a GAAP basis and had $11 billion in cash and liquid assets at the end of September.
The Airbnb news follows reports that Google is in talks to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in another AI startup, Character.AI, which the company valued at a funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz in March. Raised $150 million for $1 billion. The startup lets you create virtual characters and chat with AI versions of famous people like Elon Musk and Albert Einstein.