HomeAway nabbed Dwellable for $18 million
HomeAway paid $ 18 million for the business, documents following its acquisition by Expedia have since revealed.
Choosing a vacation rental is so complex that many startups have cropped up to help consumers. Today one of these companies is acquiring another: HomeAway, the vacation rentals giant, is acquiring Dwellable, a mobile-first vacation rental search engine.
In April 2015, Dwellable debuted a revamped app whose signature user interface innovations was a swipe-and-sort user experience (UX) similar to the one on the popular Tinder dating app.
The design replaced the industry’s standard “results list” with a card-swiping feature that it argues is more intuitive on a mobile device. Its calendar for comparing vacancies for more than one rental was also innovative.
HomeAway will likely adopt some of these UX perks as it brings on board six team members from Dwellable.
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. A year ago, Dwellable received a $ 2 million funding round, led by Version One Ventures and Maveron, with participation by former HomeAway board director Rob Solomon, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman, Farecast founder Oren Etzioni, and others.
It’s a bittersweet day for the Seattle startup, founded in 2011. It will shut down its mobile app and website. (It has already stopped accepting new reservations.) Homeowners and property managers with listings on the site will now use Dwellable to access their listings.
One of the lessons of Dwellable’s success may be the importance of having more than one founder and having founders with previous entrepreneurial chops. Adam Doppelt had helped found Urbanspoon, which was sold to IAC; Nathan Kriege was a founder at Snapvine, which was sold to White Pages; and Brenda Spoonemore was the former SVP of Interactive for the NBA.
In 2013, Adam and Nathan brought Kirby Winfield on as CEO to operationalize, capitalize and grow Dwellable. Winfield had been CEO of AdXpose, which he sold to comScore in 2011.
Kirby spoke with Tnooz today:
What were the most important decsions you made that got Dwellable to this point?
“I think one key decision we made was, once we knew we had a clear advantage in mobile, we doubled down on it.
“Instead of continuing to bootstrap with a 3 person team, we raised an outside round of capital in 2014 and hired a world class squad of engineers and biz folks to accelerate growth. We started seeing phenomenal growth in the spring of 2015 and we were off to the races.”
Will you be joining the HomeAway team? In what role? Can you remain in Seattle-area?
“I will be helping ensure a smooth transition for Dwellable’s tech and team, and then I will move on to new challenges.”
Having successfully built a highly-rated mobile app in the consumer travel space, what advice do you have for other B2C travel startups?
“Make it fast, beautiful, and reliable. It’s amazing how few companies can do these things. And pick a place where you can make a splash.
“Since we launched, there have really only been two other apps available in the store besides us; those are Airbnb and HomeAway. Choosing to focus on a mobile app in a category where simply by virtue of our existence we were in the Top Three ended up being a great way to get exposure.”
Is there anything you’ve changed your mind about in the vacation rental industry or about entrepreneurship since you started in 2013?
“Regarding the vacation rental industry, to paraphrase Brian Sharples’ comments, it’s not as easy as it looks. HomeAway has a gigantic advantage over new players in that they have deep relationships with suppliers and they know the issues cold.
“Regarding Dwellable, I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is you don’t need to raise a big priced VC round to have success – certainly, the bootstrap/small seed note approach left our company in the driver’s seat when it came to strategy and outcome, and I think that approach worked great for our team and our investors.”
HomeAway’s interest in this acqui-hire is to learn from the team’s technical talent, given that about half of visitors to it come from mobile devices today. In a statement, it said, tellingly:
“The HomeAway app has gone through significant upgrades in recent years thanks to the investment in social travel platform Gogobot in 2015 and the acquisition of mobile app developer Glad to Have You in 2014.”
Tnooz startup profile 2012: Dwellable
Last year: Dwellable’s $ 2 million raisehttp://www.hotelglobe.net/homeaway-nabbed-dwellable-for-18-million/Best Hotels