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Airbnb Aquire a Team of Bitcoin Experts! 18 Jul 2016, midnight

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Airbnb Aquire a Team of Bitcoin Experts!

Originally posted 16 Apr 2016 by

Airbnb Just Acquired a Team of Blockchain and Bitcoin Experts

Recently Airbnb has acquired the team behind the bitcoin startup, ChangeTip. Airbnb, the home rental company has acquired majority of team behind the ChangeCoin, which is a startup that runs the micropayments services that are based on bitcoin. This was revealed by 4 people who had the knowledge of this deal.

Airbnb has been looking at some blockchain and bitcoin startups, according to couple of sources, in order to study what this technology can do for the services of the company. Companies like Airbnb and Uber are built on the ability of managing the supply & demand, and this can be added by powerful open ledger system such as blockchain.

Using a service known as ChangeTip, ChangeCoin allows the users to send little amount of money over different social networks like Reddit and Twitter. But what Airbnb seems to be interested in is the talent behind ChangeCoin. The company is run by Nick Sullivan who is a notable bitcoin entrepreneur. He was also an engineer in Yahoo. According to CrunchBase the company has somewhere between 11 to 50 employees.

Whereas the financial firms have been putting resources and have been announcing the pilot projects related to Bitcoin, the consumer tech companies have not said much on this topic. However, recently Airbnb showed their interest in this technology. Nathan Blecharczyk who is the cofounder and the CTO of the company said that blockchains may allow Airbnb the ability to share the profiles of its users with the other companies. He said that the question is if there is a way of exporting (the reputation of a user) and allowing the access elsewhere in order to help the other models of sharing economy flourish.

As the user base of Airbnb has flourished to more than seventeen million users in 2015, the company has developed valuable database of the ratings and reviews that lets the hosts and the guests’ judge trustworthiness of the person they are dealing with. Blecharczyk said that within Airbnb’s context reputation is everything. He said that he could see reputation being even more important in future, whereby a guest might need to have certain reputation to access certain homes.

Blockchains have this unique ability to deal with trust. They can give permanent record of the transactions as well as other data and in some of the cases they can render that provide universal readability of data, as in case of bitcoin blockchain. In case Airbnb is able to figure out a way of making the user profiles universally readable and immutable, they can become trusted form of the digital identity, something like profiles created for individuals by the credit bureaus. Blecharczyk said that if the identities could be exported to the other platforms, they can become very valuable. For example, an Uber driver may know the reputation of the next passenger.

If Airbnb is feeling adventurous, it can also start to explore more esoteric ways of using the blockchains, like door locks which open and close when the user sends the money to the homeowner over blockchain. A successful product was made by ChangeTip, but it was not enough for building a sustainable company. According to one of the sources with knowledge of this deal, ChangeCoin has been shopping itself to the highly valued startups since several months.

According to Pitchbook, since launching in the year 2014, $5 million have been raised by ChangeCoin from the investors including the 500 Startups, Pantera Capital and Digital Currency Group.


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