Last March, Sonder was in dire straits. The startup, which rents furnished, hotel-like apartments to travelers, laid off nearly a quarter of its staff, slashed room prices and looked to terminate some of its leases as Covid-19 brought travel to a near halt. “If we pull these levers simultaneously, we have a chance,” CEO Francis Davidson said at the time.
But after a year of declining revenue and dashed business plans, Sonder and some other venture-backed travel firms have done more than just stay alive. A hot market for Silicon Valley startups, along with the sense that consumers are impatient to resume traveling as the pandemic ebbs, has allowed businesses to attract new investment, some of them at markedly higher valuations.