Airbnb leads $20 million funding round into Atlas Obscura
09/11/2019|5:36:47 PM|WSJ

Travel and exploration website Atlas Obscura has built its brand by shining a light on little-known things. Now, the company is looking to up that wattage with a major investment from home-sharing juggernaut Airbnb Inc.

Airbnb is leading a $20 million Series B funding round into the Brooklyn-based media and experiences company. Atlas Obscura said it plans to use the money to vastly expand its trips and local experience offerings, which the company says make up more than half its business.

As part of the deal, Airbnb will offer users the ability to book Atlas Obscura trips and events through Airbnb’s site and mobile app, alongside its traditional accommodation offering, for which Airbnb will take a cut.

Neither company would disclose Atlas Obscura’s valuation nor would they say how much Airbnb was investing. Airbnb is being joined in the round by previous investors, A+E Networks and venture-capital firm New Atlantic Ventures.

Atlas Obscura has raised $12 million previously in three rounds, most recently $7.5 million in a round led by A+E in 2017. Other investors include New York Times Co., New Atlantic Ventures, former DoubleClick Chief Executive Kevin Ryan, Business Insider co-founder Henry Blodget and Bustle Digital Group founder Bryan Goldberg.

The site launched in 2009, built around a mix of stories about odd corners of the globe and user-generated listings of curious places and events, such as “26 of the World’s Most Astounding Abandoned Resorts,” or “17 Places to Hunt for Aliens Besides Area 51.”

In recent years, the company began developing highly specialized events around the arcane subjects of some of its stories. Offerings include lessons in octopus taxidermy in Los Angeles for $200 or an afternoon of pinball wizardry in College Park, Md., for $8. It now hosts approximately 500 such events a year in seven cities in the U.S. With the investment, Atlas Obscura plans to expand to offering hundreds of events a month in dozens of cities in the U.S. and abroad.

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