For all its evil, war sometimes can clarify the mind and reboot our ethical compass. It puts less serious things in perspective. It nudges us towards our neighbor and reminds us that our needs and interests are intertwined. It reignites our compassion — Dan Carlin (March 1 2022 on Twitter).
It is with horror that we witness the loss of life and tragedy that is going on in Ukraine at this time. Proud of how the travel industry in general has stepped up contributing as it can to bring support and hope to victims.
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1. Airbnb, hosts and guests step up
As the number of refugees from Ukraine who have fled to neighboring countries reaches 1 million, Airbnb.org is funding short term housing for up to 100,000 refugees in nearby countries, including Poland, Germany, Hungary and Romania. All stays are free for refugees, funded by Airbnb, Airbnb.org donors and hosts. If you want to support this cause, you can support make a donation here: http://airbnb.org/get-involved. Furthermore, there has been a surge of Airbnb reservations in Ukraine from guests across the world who don’t intend to show up—but do want to show their support. As of March 3rd, more than 60,000 nights had been booked in Ukraine, generating $1.9 million. Guests from the US had booked 34,000 nights and UK guests accounted for 8,000 nights. Read + WSJ.
2. Channeling our inner Ted Lasso - Be curious
Being curious can be a superpower which can differentiate the good from the great. This post by Ted Lamade, Managing Director at The Carnegie Institution for Science, highlights the benefits of being curious. The fictional character Ted Lasso personifies it with an inspiring speech on being curious and not judgmental (watch the one minute video darts scene).
It’s also the most most common trait observed among innovators according to Walter Isaacson, author of “The Innovators”: Curiosity. Pure, passionate, and playful curiosity about everything. Steve Jobs was curious about calligraphy and coding, while Da Vinci was curious about art and anatomy. Ben Franklin wanted to know about science, the humanities and poetry. Even Einstein wanted to understand Mozart at the same time that he studied general relativity. Curiosity leads to an interest in all sorts of disciplines, which means you can stand at the intersection of the arts and sciences, which is where creativity occurs. A wide range in curiosity allows you to see patterns exist across nature and how those patterns ripple.”
Roelof Botha of Sequoia Capital highlighted curiosity as the most important characteristic of a venture capital investor.: The most important thing is curiosity. Are you interested in learning about new things? Are you interested in meeting new people? Are you interested in listening to their ideas about a company and how they are going to change the world? If not, or if you lose this curiosity, then you become jaded and you should probably stop being an investor.
3. Q4 2021 OTA performance
Airbnb and Booking had the highest Q4 adjusted EBITDA in their history.
Airbnb had the most “modest” growth (+80%) in Q4 2021 vs Q4 2020, but it was the only OTA with growth vs pre-pandemic Q4 2019. eDreams had the highest YoY growth in Q4 (+218%) but it was -28% vs Q4 2019. Airbnb had the most lowest growth at +80% vs Q4 2020, but it was the only company to show growth (+38%) vs pre-pandemic Q4 2019.
4. A story of when big innovations happen
Morgan Housel, partner at Collaborative Fund wrote that one of the the great ironies of war which he struggles to know how to reconcile is that so many of the greatest things we value today came from the worst events we pray to avoid. His post When The Magic Happens was written in August 20202 in the context of the Pandemic and it is a story about when big innovations happen and why 2020, for all the hell its brought, could be the new beginnings of something promising. It’s a particularly prescient post that takes a deeper relevance in today’s horrible context of Putin’s war on Ukraine.
5. Adopting a B4B mindset
Reframing your business-to-business (B2B) company as a business-for-business (B4B) company can increase revenues, customer retention, and employee morale. Companies with the B2B mindset ask “How much can we sell to this customer to grow our business?”. B4B means asking “How much can we help our customers grow?”. B2C businesses that frame their mission as working for customers rather than selling to them will focus their thinking on how they can help consumers succeed with the jobs for which they were hired — rather than getting fired and replaced by a competitor. By adopting a B4B mindset and focusing on helping others, we end up creating much more value — both for ourselves and for the world. Read more - MIT Management Review.
6. Hats off to airline pilots
Fascinating video from storm Eunice at London Heathrow Airport streamed live on Feb 18th, with a few hundred thousand people that watched the live stream of planes trying to land (or not). The commentary is priceless too. Video - YouTube.
7. Google mandates workers back to the office
Google will require employees back about three days a week in some of its US, UK and Asia Pacific offices starting April 4th. An internal email told employees in San Francisco that the reasons for this decision were "advances in prevention and treatment, the steady decline in cases we continue to see and the improved safety measures we have implemented”. Maybe there’s also productivity elements driving the decision. The return-to-office plans might mean that business trips will come next. Read more.
8. Travel startup investments 2021 - 2022
Using Travel Tech Essentialist’s Startups and Investors dataset, there are 179 travel startups that have raised at least one financing round since 2021 to date. A total of $9.8 billion has been raised in the last round by these by these startups. Brief summary of the 179 travel startups…
Headquarters in 41 countries
USA: 63 startups
Spain and Germany: 11 each
37 other countries: 76
Headquarters in 99 cities
San Francisco and London: 15 startups each
New York: 9
95 other cities: 148
Gaingels, Thayer Ventures: 5 startups each
Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, Tiger Global, Heartcore Capital: 4 each
B2B (tech and services for travel suppliers & airports): 50 startups
Transportation (Air, Ground, Rail, Maritime): 29
OTAs, Travel Agencies, Booking Engines, Metasearches: 26
6 other macro categories: 74
Financing round stage (and average amount)
Seed: 50 financing rounds (average $4.5 million)
Series A: 30 ($11.5 million)
Series B: 19 ($45 million)
Other stages: 80
If you’re interested in digging deeper into data from 934 travel startups and 2010 VCs and angel investors, please go here. And two reminders:
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GetMyBoat, the world's largest boat rental marketplace, announced that Yanmar has acquired a majority stake in the business and injected $21 million in growth capital as part of the Series B round.
Ember, the Utah-based vacation home co-ownership startup raised $17.4 million, in a round led by Peter Thiel. In September, three similar startups also got funding: Mexico-based Kokomo ($56 million), US-based Pacaso ($125 million) and London-based Altacasa (€2 million).
San Francisco-based Canary Technologies, which is modernizing the hotel tech stack with a fully mobile web end-to-end Guest Management System, raised $15 million in Series A funding led by F-Prime Capital, with participation from Y Combinator and Thayer Ventures among others.
Busbud, the Canadian bus ticket booking platform received raised $11 Million for LATAM expansion in a round co-led by a group of Canada-based VC funds and Chilean Wind Ventures. Busbud also joins forces with Chilean intercity bus leader Recorrido.
UK-based proptech company Lavanda has raised $7.25 million to further develop its flexible rental platform that optimizes occupancy and revenue for residential apartment blocks.
Daytrip, the intercity car transfer platform headquartered in London closed a Series A round of €6.14 million, led by Euroventures.
Barcelona-based hospitality recruitment platform Hosco closed a €3.4 million round led by Aldea Ventures and Torsa Capital, with existing investors Nauta Capital, Athos Capital and Business Angels participating.
NY-based point.me, a real-time flight rewards search engine, raised $2 million in seed funding led by PAR Capital Ventures.
Cruisewatch, a German startup launched in 2016 as both a consumer-facing search platform for cruise trippers and B2B provider of travel technology tools, raised $1 million.
10. M&A and Partnerships
Global financial super-app Revolut, with 18 million customers worldwide, partnered Kiwi.com in a joint initiative to incentivize travel. New Revolut users will receive a cashback of up to 30 GBP on their next booking with Kiwi.com.
Hopper is making its third acquisition in less than a year, with the acquisition of Paris-based airline merchandising and customer care platform Smooss, founded in 2019. The entire Smooss team will join Hopper as part of the team leading its B2B initiative, Hopper Cloud, and will work to expand adoption of it among airlines. Read +.
Travel Tech Essentialist job board
There are currently 139 exciting jobs posted in the Travel Essentialist job board. Based on activity metrics I received this week, 7% of unique visitors to the job board end up applying to at least one job (all tracking is anonymous). This job board can be a great resource whether you’re hiring or looking to be hired. Posting a job costs $30 for 35 days, but if your startup cannot afford it, please let me know and I’ll send you a link for a free posting. Here are just a few of the amazing jobs seen on the board:
Kantox: Sales - Currency Management Specialist (Barcelona)
Booking.com: Manager, Strategy & Operations (London)
Expedia: Senior Financial Analyst (London)
Airbnb: Business Operations Intern (London)
Browse more open roles (or add your own open roles) at Travel Tech Essentialist Job Board
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Along the same lines as Morgan Housel's When the Magic Happens, would recommend American by Bhu Srinivasan!