NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A new round of funding could value Airbnb at over $10 billion, signifying the company's role as a disruptive force in the hotel industry.
Private-equity firm TPG Capital is expected to lead the funding over the next few weeks -- negotiations are still in progress -- possibly bringing in up to $400 million for the property rental upstart.
The idea for Airbnb was conceived in 2008 by three Rhode Island School of Design and Harvard graduates who relocated to San Francisco, originally calling the site Airbedandbreakfast.com.
Since its inception, Airbnb has become a leader in the share economy. The site is a destination for millions of tourists looking for cheap rooms, while giving homeowners a new source of income.Airbnb's reach spans 160 countries with more than 600,000 listings, and the site has accommodated 11 million guests in its five-year history, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company said it had a record 250,000 guests in one night on New Year's Eve 2013. The hotel industry has begun to take notice of the company's tremendous growth. Airbnb has cut into the industry's market share by offering cheap prices and unconventional accommodations. For example, a person can stay in a large treehouse in Hawaii for under $100 a night, much less than comparable hotel prices in the area. The novelty of the living arrangement, along with the cheap rates, has many tourists checking with Airbnb before looking into more traditional accommodations. Airbnb takes 3% from a host's booking fee and 6% to 12% from the fee charged overall to each guest. The hotel industry has complained, saying that the site is not subject to the same regulation and tax structure that traditional hotels are, making the competition unfair. Homeowners in New York and San Francisco have questioned the legality of Airbnb's practices regarding subletting property, and tenants say the site has diminished the supply of rental properties, driving up long-term rents. Amid the criticism, current valuations of Airbnb make it worth more than Hyatt Hotels (H - Get Report), valued at $8.43 billion, and Wyndham Worldwide (WYN - Get Report), valued at $9.39 billion, signaling investors see the site as the possible future of travel stay. TPG Capital's new round of funding indicates that a public offering may be in the company's future. That would give the site fresh capital to expand advertising and hire new employees. As a public company, Airbnb could become a marquee name in the world of short-term travel accommodations.
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