Airbnb, now a publicly traded company, has completed its first acquisition, valued at nearly $200 million, according to sources familiar with the transaction as reported by CNBC.
The acquired startup is Gameplanner.AI, which has been operating in “stealth mode” since its establishment in 2020. Startups in stealth mode typically operate privately to safeguard intellectual property and minimize distractions. Gameplanner.AI is set to expedite Airbnb’s AI initiatives, as confirmed by Airbnb.
Adam Cheyer, one of the founders of Siri, is among the co-founders of Gameplanner.AI. He previously collaborated with Steve Jobs when Apple acquired Siri. Subsequently, Cheyer co-founded Viv Labs, which laid the groundwork for Samsung’s voice assistant.
Airbnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky, has expressed his belief that generative AI will bring about significant changes to the platform. He envisions using it as a “travel concierge” that learns from users over time to enhance their travel experiences. For instance, it could match users with the most suitable rooms or homes.
This acquisition marks Airbnb’s first since 2019 and may raise questions on Wall Street about Chesky’s M&A strategy, potentially making Airbnb a more appealing acquisition target. The company is currently profitable on a GAAP basis and held $11 billion in cash and liquid assets as of the end of September.
In related news, there have been reports of Google exploring investments in Character.AI, another AI startup. Character.AI, which recently raised $150 million at a $1 billion valuation in a funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz in March, enables people to create virtual characters or engage in conversations with AI representations of celebrities like Elon Musk or Albert Einstein.