Airbnb for the past year has talked about its intentions to expand its presence in hotel bookings. On Thursday, the company made it official, acquiring HotelTonight for what two people familiar with the matter said was $440 million. The deal takes Airbnb’s rivalry with Booking.com to a new level, and offers Airbnb a new outlet for growth ahead of an expected IPO in 2020.
But there are also risks for Airbnb as it seeks to sustain its unique brand and integrate HotelTonight, which had more than $100 million in revenue last year compared with Airbnb’s more than $3.5 billion. Why did Airbnb pull the trigger now?