Some called Wimdu the “Airbnb killer” soon after it was founded in 2011. But Airbnb turns out to have had the last laugh.
Wimdu, which had been Europe’s most well-funded clone of short-term rental search company Airbnb with 400 employees at its peak, will close by the end of the year, according to a message the company sent to partners Thursday. It cited “significant financial and business challenges” as the explanation.
The company did not respond to comments in time for publication. It will lay off its staff of about 50 employees in Berlin and about 60 in Lisbon by the year’s end, Gründerszene reported.
Wimdu had received a total of more than USD 90 million in funding, primarily from Rocket Internet and AB Kinnevik.
At the start of 2017, Novasol, a Denmark-based vacation-home marketer owned by the European Vacation Rentals unit of Wyndham Worldwide, was cleared to take ownership of the company. Novasol attempted to make Wimdu profitable by laying off about 25 employees and retooling its online marketing.
Then in early 2018, Wyndham sold its European vacation rental business to Platinum Equity for approximately USD 1.3 billion.
The private equity firm appears to be making changes to the business portfolio.
In a statement, Wimdu said, “All guests and hosts having 2018 bookings – with a check-in date occurring before or on the 31-December-2018 – will be carried out professionally and reliably. All guests with 2019 bookings – with a check-in date occurring after the 31-December-2018 – will be contacted separately to deal with their respective booking.”
The news strengthens the position of HomeToGo, a price-comparison search engine based in Berlin. In 2017, HomeToGo raised a Series C round. The company declined to disclose the amount but said it was “a significant eight-figure number.” Before that, it had raised $26.6 million in funding.
Earlier this month, HomeToGo’s largest rival, Tripping.com, had shed staff after an “ugly” conflict among its founders and board.
While HomeToGo is a price-comparison aggregator, unlike Wimdu, it is now Europe’s largest, best-funded, profitable, and fastest growing startups in the vacation rental search segments.
In related news, one-time main Wimdu backer Rocket Internet appears to be pulling back from some of its investments. There have been reports it’s considering putting one of its portfolio companies Jumia — an African consortium of internet companies including a travel brand Jumia Travel — on the public markets via an initial public offering, Reuters reported.
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