US: Airbnb has announced the acquisition of GamePlanner.AI, a stealth 12-person AI company led by Adam Cheyer and Siamak Hodjat.
It marks Airbnb’s first purchase as a public company. Sources close to the deal confirmed to CNBC that the transaction was worth just under $200 million.
Notable acquisitions made by Airbnb leading up to its initial public offering [IPO] in late 2020 included hotel booking service HotelTonight, extended stay accommodation platform Urbandoor, French concierge services company Luckey Homes, and Danish booking site Gaest. In April, the company denied reports linking it with the rumoured acquisition of Edinburgh-based proptech firm Letting Cloud.
Airbnb will use the expertise of GamePlanner.AI to accelerate select AI projects and integrate its tools into its own platform. It already uses AI across its platform, including large language models, computer vision models and machine learning, as well as an AI-powered Photo Tour tool that was unveiled during last week’s Winter Release.
GamePlanner.AI co-founder Cheyer previously co-founded virtual personal assistant Siri, which was acquired by Apple, and then led server side engineering and AI for Siri, while working alongside Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. He later co-founded Viv Labs, which was acquired by Samsung and is now known as the company’s voice assistant Bixby, and was on the founding team of Change.org, the world’s largest petition platform.
Alongside Cheyer, Hodjat led the natural language processing team for Siri at Apple and led the largest engineering team for Viv Labs at Samsung.
Airbnb co-founder and CEO, Brian Chesky, said: “What makes GamePlanner.AI so special is that they combine expertise in AI, design, and community. AI will rapidly alter our world more than any other technology in our lifetime, but we need to ensure that it augments humanity in a positive way.
“Airbnb is one of the more humanistic companies in technology, and I believe that, together with Adam and his team, we can develop some of the best interfaces and practical applications for AI,” he added.
Adam Cheyer, co-founder and CEO of GamePlanner.AI, said: “A big part of what attracted us to Airbnb was our shared commitment to using AI to enable human connection. Like Brian, I believe that without great design and community-based intelligence, AI can only achieve a fraction of its potential. But with them, the sky’s the limit.
“The Airbnb team understands this better than anyone,” he added.
Earlier this year, Catherine Powell, global head of hosting at Airbnb, spoke to STRz about enhancing safety and security on the Airbnb platform, prioritising sustainable and responsible tourism, and how AI and machine learning will create a more personalised booking search experience from now on. Watch the interview at this link.