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1. Airbnb buys HotelTonight: The end of the fight against hotels?

Airbnb Plus

Four or five years ago, the unofficial corporate slogan at Airbnb leaked out: “F__k Hotels” (via the now defunct ValleyWag).

Now, it seems, the war is over:

  • Airbnb is about to issue an IPO, and just ahead of time, has purchased HotelTonight (Recode).
  • HotelTonight is the provider of last-minute, curated stays (which itself has been widening its scope far beyond a hotel for tonight).
  • Airbnb will leave HotelTonight operating as is, and the money involved wasn’t disclosed.
  • “A big part of building an end-to-end travel platform is serving every guest, whether they plan their trip a year or a day in advance,” said Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky.
  • “Working with the incredible team at HotelTonight, we will offer guests an unparalleled last-minute travel experience that provides unique, memorable hospitality on every trip, on any schedule, at any time.”

What’s it mean?

  • This is a big shift and indicates that Airbnb will incorporate hotels into its offering, possibly via its new Airbnb Plus offer.
  • Most of the time, people do at least quickly check between Airbnb pricing and hotel pricing for their destination, so it makes sense to truly one-stop shop the stays business.
  • But, I’m a little sad. It signals the end of something to me.
  • Airbnb has been the major driver in remaking how we travel, especially for holidaying, and shared rooms have slashed costs, making travel more possible without needing hit-or-miss hostels.
  • That’s been through a sheer focus on the sharing economy, which is now clearly changing.
  • If Airbnb becomes an aggregator, and drops the ball on what has been a great service offering an honest experience (with caveats that I once wrote about here) that will be sad.
  • Still, not everyone wants to stay in someone’s home, especially when travelling for business rather than leisure.
  • Hotels, and serviced apartments for those who have the budget, offer more flexibility, more privacy, and a range of amenities. Sometimes, they suit best.
  • Just looking ahead, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a freemium-type subscription service or perhaps a loyalty service from Airbnb at some point too. It might allow you to unlock deals or the highest-rated homes or something else. HotelTonight does have a loyalty program.

One last point: here’s hoping Airbnb borrows the team behind the HotelTonight apps on iOS and Android. The Airbnb app is a bit of a mess, which becomes clear once you try the very slick HotelTonight app.

2.Tim Cook is now Tim Apple on Twitter and it’s legendary. The Apple emoji doesn’t show up on Android/Windows, mind you.

3. You can finally mail in your Google Pixel 3 for repairs. Finally! (AA)

4. Looking for wallpapers that make use of Galaxy S10 cutout? There’s a subreddit for that. (AA)

5. The six most unusual phones we saw at MWC 2019: from bomb-proof to Star Trek (AA).

6. “BlackBerry will forever live on in my Dominican heart” (AA). A nice little piece of nostalgia from my colleague Williams here.

7. SXSW begins today in Austin and it’s largely streamed if you’re not there (SXSW).

8. Thousands of new millionaires are about to eat San Francisco alive:

“Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and Pinterest plan to go public. California’s newly minted rich… want cars. They want to open new restaurants. They want to throw bigger parties. And they want houses, ” (NY Times).

9. Google: Update Chrome right now this minute, as attackers are ‘actively exploiting’ a bug. (Engadget)

10. You can now play PlayStation 4 games on your iPhone (Ars Technica). Now, that’s five years after you could do so on Sony Xperia smartphones running Android, but you can still only play PS4 games on Android if you have a Sony smartphone.

11. YC’s latest moonshot bet is a startup building a $380K ‘flying motorcycle’ (TechCrunch).

12. The SpaceX Crew Dragon is returning from the ISS — depending on when you read this, it will be close to making a splashdown or it’s already happened. (NASA Live)

13. Is this image a duck or a rabbit? For Google Cloud Vision, it depends how the image is rotated (r/dataisbeautiful)

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