Airbnb might not use Vamo, but the company’s appetite for a team like Vamo CEO Ari Steinberg’s makes sense. Airbnb isn’t just about booking a residence — there’s a whole additional layer of experiences that sit on top of that, like communication between hosts and guests. And of course, for a team like Steinberg’s, the attraction of a company like Airbnb is the opportunity to work in the same field at a much larger scale and with more resources.
“The more that I saw, the more that they were up to, the more I heard [Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky] and his vision for the company, it just really resonated a lot,” Steinberg said.
Vamo had raised $1.6 million in venture financing. At a high level, Steinberg said, the goal was to make it easier to plan more complex vacations, like those involving multiple cities. To plan that kind of a vacation, you have to book multiple things like the various transit between cities and figure out the best hotels. That gets complicated — and usually ends up with dozens of browser tabs open and getting lost in all of the available options.
Steinberg said he and his team will be working on the traveling guest experience, helping them plan the trips and make that experience easier. (Steinberg will also be based in San Francisco.)
“I’d done a lot of traveling, I love doing it, and at the same time I found when I was planning trips I was spending hours and hours and hours on it,” he said. “I saw that talking to friends and even planning trips with them I realized, not everyone was willing to put in all that time, so I felt there was an opportunity for tech to make that process easier.”
Steinberg met Chesky during his seven-year tenure at Facebook, where he was an engineering director and ran the company’s office in Seattle. The two kept in touch, exchanging advice and meeting periodically when Steinberg was in town. It was during a trip like one he was planning to Africa that the frustration of booking everything resulted in a startup idea.
Airbnb said it hosted more than 17 million guests over the summer. To continue growing and hitting milestones like that, Airbnb has to attract the best talent — whether that’s by bringing it on board naturally or acquiring companies with teams like Steinberg’s. The terms of this deal were not disclosed.
“I’m really happy with the product we built,” Steinberg said. “What we realized as we learned more about travel, we were building something that was great for a specific use case, but there are so many people traveling in so many different capacities and styles of travel. I’m really excited there’s now an opportunity to reach an even broader use case.”