Wimdu

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WIMDU
Wimdu logo
OwnerPlatinum Equity
Websitewimdu.com
CommercialYes
LaunchedMarch 2011; 8 years ago (2011-03)
Current statusInactive
Written inRuby on Rails

Wimdu has been launched as a European competitor to Airbnb by Rocket Internet in 2011History[1]. At the same time other companies such as 9flats, Flipkey or Housetrip and many more launched similar services. Over time all of those companies changed their business models, were integrated in bigger companies or simply closed down. Started with significant funding[2] Wimdu continued the initial path. In 2016 the shareholders sold the company to competitor 9flats[3] who then sold it to Novasol. NovaSol, being a part of Wyndham Destination Network then was bought up by Platinum Equity[4]. In September 2018 the new owners announced the closing of the Wimdu operations and released all employees.[5]

Platinum Wimdu offered more than 350,000 property listings in more than 150 countries. It is owned by Wimdu GmbH, which is owned by Novasol, a subsidiary of Platinum Equity. [6]

The website is still accessible, but pointing to another operator.

History[edit]

The company started out as an online marketplace and hospitality service, enabling people to lease or rent short-term lodging including vacation rentals, apartment rentals, homestays, hostel beds, or hotel rooms. The company does not own any lodging; it is merely a broker and receives commissions in conjunction with every booking.[7][8][9]

Wimdu is available in 15 languages, including English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Dutch. Wimdu was registered as a limited company (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung, GmbH) in March 2011.[10] Arne Bleckwenn and Hinrich Dreiling, the founders of Wimdu, founded and managed several other startups before.[11][12] Shortly after Wimdu launched, the company received $90 million in funding from Kinnevik and Rocket Internet.[13] At the time, this was the largest investment in a European startup ever.[14] WirtschaftsWoche rated Wimdu among the most important startups of 2011.[15] Online for less than 100 days, Wimdu already offered 10,000 properties worldwide. Because the Chinese market is different, Wimdu started a spin-off business there called Airizu.[16] Shortly after the launch of Wimdu, Airbnb publicity criticized the business model.[17] Nevertheless, Airbnb considered acquiring Wimdu,[18] but finally decided against it.[19][20]

By 2012, Wimdu claimed to be the biggest social accommodation website from Europe.[21] After the first year in business, Wimdu gained booking revenues of $6.6 million per month and expected more than $100 million for the whole year 2012.[22][23] Later that year, the company fundamentally changed its growth strategy: Activities of international offices were reduced, some employees moved back to the Berlin headquarters.[24] The media reported that the restructuring was due to rising costs incurred by rapid growth.[25] 2013, Wimdu closed its China subsidiary Airizu, now doing business there under their main brand.[26] When it comes to Germany in particular, peer-to-peer property rental companies faced new regulatory requirements beginning in 2013.[27][28] While competitors like 9flats left Berlin,[29] Wimdu continued its operations there.[30]

By June 2013, Wimdu offered 100,000 accommodations in 150 countries.[31] The same year, media reported that Rocket Internet wanted at moments to sell Wimdu.[32][33] In October 2014, the founders Arne Bleckwenn and Hinrich Dreiling left Wimdu at their own request.[34] The management was handed over to Arne Kahlke und Sören Kress,[35] Bleckwenn and Dreiling took a position in the advisory board.[36] Wimdu further expanded its activities at the Berlin headquarters.[37] From 2013 to 2014, Wimdu increased the number of bookings by 31%.[38] 2015, Mediaset and Wimdu signed a media for equity deal.[39] The Italian media conglomerate invested million euros in the Berlin company, which received advertising on the Mediaset TV channels in return.[40] In the following months, Wimdu expanded in Italy, Spain and other Southern European countries.[41] The Mediaset-deal was significant for this.[42][43]

The city of Berlin adopted a law that restricts private apartment rentals.[44][45] This was primarily due to the housing shortage.[46] In April 2016, Wimdu filed a lawsuit against the law, which received a lot of public attention.[47][48] The company argued that the law illegally restricts the fundamental rights of hosts.[49] Author of the lawsuit is Helge Sodan, former president of the constitutional court of Berlin.[50] Although the lawsuit will likely be successful,[51] the Senate of Berlin continues to uphold the law.[52] A decision is expected for mid-2016.

In October 2016, the company announced a merger with 9flats.[53][54]

However, in December 2016, the company was sold to Danish company Novasol.[55]

Investment AB Kinnevik and Rocket Internet have invested in the company.[56]

How it works[edit]

Users of the Wimdu website must register a personal online identity, with a valid email address. Alternatively, Wimdu users can log in with an existing Facebook account. Profiles include reviews to build reputation and trust between users of the online marketplace.[57] Wimdu receives a commission of 3% from the host and 12% from the guest. Wimdu supports different payment methods, including credit card, direct debit and wire transfer. For security purposes, all payments are retained for 24 hours after check-in, so that guests can check their accommodation for problems.[58] In addition to the website, there are mobile apps for iOS devices,[59] although Android is currently not supported.

Controversies[edit]

Rocket Internet, which is headed up by the Samwer brothers and invested heavily in Wimdu, is renowned for its aggressive entrepreneurship and leadership style.[60][61][62] Wimdu has been accused several times of being a clone of Airbnb,[63][64] as their business-model and website design is remarkably similar.[65] In response, representatives of the company stated that although the concept may seem similar, Wimdu has a unique approach,[66] treating "different countries, different cultures, in different ways".[67] Wimdu offers a "hotel light" experience in a market where Airbnb has the "first mover advantage".[68] Both Airbnb and Wimdu have been in a fierce competition, especially in German-speaking Europe.[69]

In January 2016, Wimdu was accused of leaving their hosts alone to deal with vandalism: Die Zeit, Stern reported that Wimdu refused to compensate a Berlin apartment that had been destroyed, beyond offering a dedicated "insurance" for such damages.[70][71] Wimdu denied the allegations and pointed out that the host had demanded an "excessive refund" in this case.[72] Die Zeit took on the position of Wimdu and invited experts to check their standard form contract, which was deemed to be unsatisfactory for many cases discussed before.[73]

May 30th 2016 a dutch TV program (Groeten van Max) showed a B&B being duped - as their images were used by someone else. As they informed Wimdu about it, Wimdu ignored the problem - allowing others to be duped by a fake room/apartment being advertised, plus damaging the reputation of the original B&B. When confronted by representatives of Groeten van Maxat at their head office, they refused to comment and expelled them. [74]

In April 2018, the city of Paris files a lawsuit against Wimdu and its competitor AirBnB for violating local laws. Flats and houses without specific registration numbers had been illegally listed. [75]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]