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Investors Pump $90 Million Into Airbnb Clone Wimdu (techcrunch.com)
36 points by ssclafani on June 14, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments

Can I just point out that Airbnb has a far superior name and domain name? I mean Wimdu sounds like a character from Star Wars, while Airbnb has the "bed and breakfast" abbreviation built right into the name.

Actually Airbnb is a terrible name because it conjures up a distasteful (and inaccurate) mental image of what their service provides.

An Airbed is a horrible rubber thing that you sleep on at a friend's house that deflates in the night leaving you lying on the floor surrounded by sagginess. Therefore an Airbed-n-breakfast must be a place where you can expect to get that sort of experience, but for a price.

That mental picture kept me from even bothering to check out the website the first dozen or so times they made the front page here. I'd wager it's costing them a lot of money from people who simply refuse to check them out because they don't want to sleep on an airbed.

Notice that none of the listings on airbnb show anything like a trashed studio apartment where you'll be expected to sleep on an old couch with dead pizza boxes under it, but ask anybody on the street to describe an "airbed and breakfast" and that's what you'll get. But if you don't force yourself to ignore the terrible name and give them a shot, you'll never find out.

For my money I'd rather be called something nosensical than something off-putting.

This actually happened to me:

I once heard of Airbnb on HN.

<fast-forward a few weeks>

I once spent half a day looking for that site with a terrible name that let you rent good apts for short periods of time.

So, from my experience, Airbnb has a terrible name. I also had no idea that bnb in Airbnb actually stood for something... Looks like you just saved me half a day sometime in the future, thanks.

When I first heard the name "airbnb" I assumed somebody was writing a fork of aircrack.

This is a totally subjective thing, but they both have terrible names, IMO. Airbnb is slightly more memorable but equally horrible to actually say aloud.

Every startup prides themselves on being the disruptor the industry until "me-too" clones come along and they get pissed because the disruption is short-lived.

Build a good product users want, treat those users well, and you'll be fine.

At some point, shouldn't the readers of HN consider themselves the market makers? This constant hearsay about who is making money and who isn't...tiresome.

From a fake interview with McLuhan:

"The attention of consumers can shift instantly and make the most profound investments obsolete in just a few years, soon to be sped up even further. We will see economic empires crash within hours, and new ones arise just as quickly.

The task of the economic manager now is to try to hold monopolies in place just long enough for economic transactions to occur."

I first read this while still in high school and it left a huge impression on me. (Big enough that I still remembered it just now, over 15 years later... wtf?!)

--> http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/4.01/channeling_pr.html

What I don't understand about this is - What makes Wimdu a clone of AirBnB, but AirBnB not a clone of Homeaway/VRBO?

I'm not trying to be flippant, really wondering what is new about AirBnB (other than a much better interface)

Check out both sites: http://www.wimdu.com and http://www.airbnb.com

The designs are very, very similar. Blatantly so, imho. Even the logos are in the same style.

Wow, that is quite similar. The steps to change one to the other would be pretty simple. For example: switch the color on the logo with the color on the List your space button. I must say that the AirBnb slideshow is way better. It shows each slide for a longer period of time, and the transition is slower. Relaxing to view, as it should be.

Does VRBO do partial apartment rentals? I've used both (Airbnb for the first time this week), liked both, but have the impression VRBO is entirely whole-house rental --- and significantly more expensive.

From the article, it sounds like these new sites are literally clones. They are scraping Airbnb listings and posting them on their own sites. They aren't just using the idea of Airbnb, they are using the content.

That's just what I can glean from the article.

I didn't see any mention of scraping.

> I'm not trying to be flippant, really wondering what is new about AirBnB (other than a much better interface)

I think you might have answered a decent chunk of the question in your parentheses, there.

To elaborate with an excerpt from http://www.paulgraham.com/start.html:

"It's worth trying very, very hard to make technology easy to use. Hackers are so used to computers that they have no idea how horrifying software seems to normal people. Stephen Hawking's editor told him that every equation he included in his book would cut sales in half. When you work on making technology easier to use, you're riding that curve up instead of down. A 10% improvement in ease of use doesn't just increase your sales 10%. It's more likely to double your sales."

While i've nothing against Wimdu (or AirBnB), I am against putting insane amounts of money into something that not only is a "clone" of another business, it is also what I define as a business that does not exactly "push humanity forward".

I could give a myriad of better uses for that $90 million:

- Keep the SETI initiative going (and along with a few arrays)

- Any tpe of medical (cancer, genetics, etc) research

- Next generation wireless infrastructure networks

- Any viable cleantech startup

And the list goes on and on and on and on..

At some point, each person decides how much value something provides to themselves or others and acts accordingly. You put a lot of value in the items that you list, others put value in things like Airbnb. To claim that because Airbnb doesn't "push humanity forward" (by whatever measure you imagine that to be) that it is somehow a waste of money is a bit much. For one thing, $100MM sounds like a lot of money, but in the big picture of "pushing humanity forward" it is almost nothing. Secondly, as a society, we aren't going to put 100% of our wealth into those items, or any other list that one person considers "important". So why is it so terrible that it is going to something that provides many people real value (as they define it for themselves)?

I wasn't referring to AirBnB specifically but the gist of my comment is I don't see how an AirBnB clone can justify $90m worth of capital.

So maybe my usage of the term "pushing humanity forward" may be a lil bit grandiose but i certainly didn't mean giant leaps straight off. For example, i consider Google/Wikipedia to be an invention that "pushed humanity forward" because it raised the collective IQ of the human race (with access to it of course) by a few notches. Both companies certainly didn't need $90m worth of capital initially to start off but benefitted from a few angel investments.

What i probably should have said is that the $90m could have better been allocated to things that are more worthwhile to humanity and not investing in just another "clone" of something.

But I guess kristofferR is right. At the end of the day, the only thing most investors care about is making money and since it is their money, it is fully in their right to choose what they want to invest in.

No investor cares about pushing humanity forward, they care about making money on their investments. And that's okay - since in most cases the amount of money made is proportional to the value something creates.

I actually think that making travel cheaper and more enjoyable, connecting visitors with hosts, utilizing unused space, etc. are pretty worthy objectives.

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