Airbnb Leads $160 Million Investment in Startup Designing Apartments for Travelers

April 17, 2019, 2:00 PM UTC

Just weeks after its last investment, Airbnb is taking the lead on funding another company that complements its home rental service. This time around, Airbnb’s investment will help fuel the growth of apartments specifically designed for travelers.

Lyric said Wednesday that it had raised $160 million in funding, with Airbnb as the lead investor. Lyric, based in San Francisco, plans to use the money to help expand its footprint beyond the 13 U.S. cities in which it currently operates.

Airbnb’s investment comes amid speculation that it will file for a blockbuster initial public offering later this year. The company has become one of the dominant players in home rentals for travelers with a private valuation of $38 billion.

Airbnb’s Series B funding of Lyric follows a $100 million to $200 million investment in Indian hotel chain OYO two weeks ago. Earlier this year, Airbnb also backed co-working office startup The Wing and hospitality technology firm Resy. Additionally, in 2018, Airbnb funded China-based home rental software company City Home.

Airbnb’s investment in Lyric, in some ways, helps its own business. Lyric leases entire floors of apartment buildings, designs the spaces for travelers, and then lists them on its own site and on other sites like Airbnb.

Lyric, founded in 2014, has long had ties with Airbnb. Lyric CEO Andrew Kitchell rented his apartment through Airbnb during Airbnb’s first year as a startup. Kitchell even once hosted Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky at his home.

The relationship between Lyric and Airbnb grew over time. Kitchell said that Lyric provides Airbnb with reliable inventory that follows city regulations, “so [Airbnb’s] investment in us makes a lot of sense.”

Airbnb declined to comment about its investment. Instead, in a statement, it praised Lyric, citing its technology and its skill in designing the interiors of its apartments.

Lyric markets itself as combining the professional management of a hotel with the local feel of staying at someone’s home. It says it has hosted “tens of thousands” of guests at more than 400 listings.

The company is working with real estate developers, some of which served as investors in the latest investment round, to create new apartments together. Other investors include Tishman Speyer, RXR Realty, and Obvious Ventures, the investment fund run by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams.

Lyric did not disclose any financial details about its business or its valuation in the latest funding round. In total, the company says it has raised $185 million.

Meanwhile, Airbnb continues to focus on expanding its reach, including into transportation and by acquiring last-minute hotel room app HotelTonight earlier this year.

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