Sun, Jun 18, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Airbnb is to buy background-check start-up Trooly

Bloomberg

Airbnb Inc is purchasing background-check start-up Trooly Inc in a bid to protect its guests and hosts from bad actors.

Los Altos, California-based Trooly has been helping Airbnb authenticate user identities since 2015.

By analyzing data from public records, social media and other sources, Trooly’s technology could help Airbnb track various customer violations, such as side deals between guests and hosts.

“We look forward to welcoming the Trooly team to Airbnb in the coming weeks,” Airbnb spokesman Tim Rathschmidt said, declining to provide a purchase price or specifics of the arrangement.

Since starting in 2008, Airbnb has struggled to control fraudulent listings from people posing as property owners. Some Airbnb guests have also been found to sidestep the company by finding an attractive listing on Airbnb’s Web site, then contacting the hosts — usually via social media — and offering to pay them directly.

Airbnb takes as much as a 12 percent fee from its guests, while hosts are charged a 3 percent fee on listings that are booked. In most cases, the company is also required to charge guests a local tax, usually 3 percent, although the tax rates vary by city, state and country.

Trooly was started in 2014, but waited until last year to raise US$10 million in its first round of financing, led by Bain Capital Ventures and Milliways Ventures.

Airbnb is purchasing Trooly’s intellectual property and engineering team, people familiar with the situation said.

Airbnb is expected to close the deal tomorrow when Trooly is to shut down operations as an independent company, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

The acquisition comes at a time of expansion for Airbnb.

The privately held company, valued at about US$31 billion, has more than 3 million home and apartment-rental listings and is expanding into new product categories including travel “experiences.”

In February, Airbnb purchased Canadian property management company Luxury Retreats.

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