Like a love child of eBay and CouchSurfing.com or craigslist, AirBnB lets anyone that owns space fit for accommodating travelers – be it a couch in a small apartment or the master bedroom of a 19th-century castle – post that space as a listing on its website and connect potential renters to its respective owners.
Once called Airbed and Breakfast in full, AirBnB aims to provide a secure online marketplace for these types of transactions and make people ‘travel like humans’ again.
Now the startup, which came out of Y Combinator‘s winter 2009 class, is making it easier for people who share interests (e.g. photography) or have another connection with each other (e.g. alumni who’ve attended the same university) to share travel accommodation and recommendations thanks to the addition of Groups.
Basically, the groups feature lets travelers form virtual tribes made up of peers, and exchange rental space among each other through the AirBnB system. The idea behind that is that connecting to someone with similar interests or lifestyle improves the chances of coming to a mutual agreement, and traveling that much more fun. Amusing factoid: there’s also a Y Combinator and Hacker News group, whose members regularly host each other when traveling the country to go pitch somewhere, meet up with partners or attend industry events.
AirBnB is also expanding geographically: it now lists properties in over 100 countries and more than 1,700 cities. In case you’re interested, the most popular is New York City with 1,500 listings, and the most popular international city is Paris (hint: Le Web). Since its soft launch, over 2,500 people have joined 53 groups.
One of the startup’s founders who we spoke to, Brian Chesky, declined to share specifics but informs us that revenue has gone up 10% every month since its April launch.
Which group are you going to join for your next trip? I picked mine: