HomeAway CEO defends turf as Airbnb makes inroads
HomeAway is aggressively defending its turf—suing the city of San Francisco in November over new rules that it says unfairly favor Airbnb.
Not too long ago, planning a vacation stay meant phoning a travel agent or booking chain hotels. Travelers now have many more options for places to stay, thanks to vacation-rental sites and apps that connect them with available rooms or dwellings almost anywhere in the world.
Brian Sharples, the founder and chief executive of Austin, Texas vacation-rental company HomeAway Inc. has helped drive that big change. Since going public in 2011, the $2.76 billion company has acquired numerous vacation-listing sites and now boasts over a million property listings, though the younger Airbnb Inc. has stolen some of its thunder.
Mr. Sharples is quick to distinguish between the two firms’ revenue models, listings and clientele. HomeAway lists whole units rather than rooms, focuses on vacation destinations, and caters more to families and groups, rather than singles and couples, Mr. Sharples says. Yet HomeAway is aggressively defending its turf—suing the city of San Francisco in November over new rules that it says unfairly favor Airbnb.