Airbnb Backs Zeus Living, Doubling Down on Business Travel

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Airbnb is backing corporate housing startup Zeus Living, which closed a $55 million Series B round this week, Zeus announced. 

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The move highlights Airbnb’s focus on the business travel space. In April, Airbnb led a $160 million investment round in short-term rental company Lyric, and in August it acquired Urbandoor, a business travel marketplace, which has since been folded into Airbnb. 

Airbnb also works with corporate clients directly, an area where Zeus differentiates itself from vacation rental competitors like Sonder

Zeus operates a portfolio of furnished homes for enterprise clients, including Disney, Bird and HackerOne, as well as individual business travelers. It currently manages over 2,000 homes in five urban markets, and launched in New York and Los Angeles this fall. 

Zeus co-founder and CEO Kulveer Taggar said the investment from Airbnb will help grow the demand side of the business. “When we found out [Airbnb] were interested in investing, we had to assess what they could bring to the table,” said Taggar, who has known Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky since 2010. “We think they could be a huge demand catalyst for us.”

Zeus makes 70 percent of their revenue from enterprise clients so they’re not as reliant on the open marketplace, said Taggar. 

As for Airbnb’s broader interest in the business travel sector, Taggar said it’s additive. “[Airbnb] wants to help the ecosystem around their marketplace, and they’ll do what they think is best for that.”

The new round brings Zeus’s total funding to $79.1 million since its launch in 2015. Other investors in the round include Comcast, CEAS Investments, and TI Platform Management, as well as existing investors Alumni Ventures Group, Initialized Capital, NFX, and Spike Ventures

Zeus will use the capital to expand into additional markets, grow within their existing markets, and develop the internal software that powers their pricing, design and property management. For example, Zeus engineers have developed software that allows them to design a new home within hours and have it ready within a week, Taggar said. 

Down the line, Taggar expects there to be interest from regular renters who appreciate the flexibility of a month-to-month lease.

“Perhaps what we call corporate housing or furnished housing today is just what renting looks like in the future,” he said.

Airbnb’s enterprise arm, Airbnb for Work, was launched in 2014 and works with 500,000 companies worldwide, according to an Airbnb spokesperson. The company declined to comment on the Zeus investment.