In a press release yesterday, Airbnb announced “Airbnb, the leading online community marketplace that lets anyone discover and book unique spaces from people around the world, today announced that it has received $112 million in Series B financing from Andreessen Horowitz, DST Global, and General Catalyst, bringing the company’s total funding to $119.8 million. The capital will be used to fuel growth, accelerate the hiring of a world-class team and strengthen the Airbnb community at the local level.” Now the start-up is in good company, with other investor portfolio companies, Facebook, Zynga, Twitter, Groupon.

Since Airbnb is the new darling of the start-up world in the Silicon Valley, I decided to use the service on a recent trip to Korea. The process was simple. I logged in, typed ’Seoul’, set my budget and selected Wifi as a requirement. At least 20 listings popped up. I messaged a few of the one’s I liked and decided on one, mainly because the guy was into start-ups.

I’ve used Couchsurfing, a similar free version, a few years ago when I travelled to Japan with a few friends, but only used it to meet people, not stay with them. I was a little apprehensive about staying at a stranger’s place and leaving my stuff there. It was such apprehension that Y-Combinator front man, Paul Graham originally believed would inhibit Airbnb from becoming a big business. But he fell in love with the founders – Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk, more than the idea so decided to take them in. Lucky he did! Fast-forward only 3 years from its founding in 2008, now Airbnb (according to its front page) has 16,737 people to rent from in 186 countries and is handling 10,000 guests a night all over the world, from beds on the floor to a Giraffe Manor in Kenya and is generating healthy revenue growth of 30% month on month, justifying the monstrous US$1.3bn valuation. Airbnb makes money by taking commission from the transaction.

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Jason Lim

Jason is an Australian born Chinese living in Beijing, specializing in entrepreneurship, start-ups and the investment eco-system in China, especially in the tech and social area.