How Airbnb’s First Acquisition of GamePlanner AI Will Boost Its AI Projects
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Airbnb, the home-sharing giant, has made a bold move by acquiring GamePlanner AI, a secretive startup that specializes in artificial intelligence (AI), design, and community. This is Airbnb’s first acquisition since it went public in 2020, and it is valued at just under $200 million, according to CNBC.
Who is GamePlanner AI and why did Airbnb buy them?
GamePlanner AI was founded in 2020 by Adam Cheyer and Siamak Hodjat, who are both veterans in the AI field. Cheyer is one of the co-founders of Siri, the voice assistant that Apple bought in 2010. He also cofounded Viv Labs, which became the basis for Samsung’s voice assistant. Hodjat was the head of the natural language processing team for Siri at Apple.
The startup has been operating in stealth mode, meaning that it has kept its activities and products hidden from the public eye. However, Airbnb said that GamePlanner AI will help the company accelerate “select AI projects” that will enhance the user experience and the platform’s functionality.
Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky praised the startup and its founders in a statement, saying that they combine expertise in AI, design, and community. He also said that AI will rapidly alter the world more than any other technology in our lifetime, but it needs to be used in a positive way that augments humanity.
“Airbnb is one of the more humanistic companies in technology, and I believe that, together with Adam and his team, we can develop some of the best interfaces and practical applications for AI,” Chesky said.
How Airbnb uses AI to improve its platform and services
Airbnb has been investing in AI to improve its platform and offer more personalized and tailored services to its users. For example, the company recently launched an AI-powered photo tour tool that helps hosts sort their listing images and showcase their properties better.
Chesky has also expressed his vision of using generative AI as a “travel concierge” that learns about users over time and enhances their travel experiences. For instance, he said that AI could match users with the right rooms or homes, or even create virtual travel guides.
Airbnb uses AI to improve its platform in various ways, such as:
- Enhancing search and discovery: Based on guest preferences, needs, and behavior, Airbnb uses AI to match them with the most relevant listings, experiences, and services around the world. AI also assists hosts in optimizing listing descriptions, photos, and pricing strategies in order to attract more bookings.
- Preventing fraud and ensuring safety: Airbnb employs artificial intelligence to detect and prevent fraudulent activity such as fake accounts, spam, phishing, and identity theft. AI also assists in verifying the identities of guests and hosts, as well as flagging any suspicious or inappropriate content.
- Automating communication and customer service: Using natural language processing and chatbots, Airbnb uses AI to provide instant and personalized responses to frequently asked questions from guests and hosts. AI also assists in routing customer service requests to the most appropriate agents and providing them with pertinent information and suggestions.
- Creating virtual travel guides and experiences: Airbnb uses artificial intelligence (AI) to create personalized and interactive travel guides and experiences for guests based on their interests, preferences, and feedback. Using generative AI and character AI, AI can also help create virtual characters and chat with AI versions of celebrities.
What Airbnb’s acquisition means for the travel industry and the future of AI
This acquisition of Gameplanner AI could give Airbnb an edge over its competitors in the travel industry, as well as attract more interest from Wall Street. The company is profitable on a GAAP basis and had $11 billion in cash and liquid assets as of the end of September 2021.
Airbnb’s deal follows reports that Google is in talks to invest hundreds of millions into another AI startup, Character.AI, which lets people create virtual characters or chat with AI versions of celebrities like Elon Musk or Albert Einstein. The startup raised $150 million at a $1 billion valuation in a funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz in March 2021.
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