Airbnb Invests in Restaurant-Booking App Resy

airbnb-invests-in-restaurant-booking-app-resy-talkdine

Airbnb Inc., one of the most richly funded startups in the world, is turning into an investor itself.

The San Francisco startup led a $13 million funding round in restaurant-booking app Resy Network Inc., which competes with the much larger OpenTable Inc. Airbnb will use Resy’s table-booking services to expand beyond home-sharing, part of its plan to become a one-stop shop for travelers.

airbnb-invests-in-restaurant-booking-app-resy-talkdine

airbnb-invests-in-restaurant-booking-app-resy-talkdine

The funding, which also includes payments firm First Data Corp. and venture-capital firms RSE Ventures and Lerer Hippeau Ventures, values Resy at about $70 million, according to an estimate from PitchBook Data. The company declined to comment on its valuation.

Resy seeks higher-end restaurants to list for booking tables and aims to capture more data about diners to help eateries better serve repeat customers. It lists about 1,000 U.S. restaurants in 50 markets; that compares with 40,000 restaurants on OpenTable globally.

“We can curate the restaurants list for each customer so that you’ll see only choices that are really good for you,” said Resy Chief Executive Ben Leventhal, whose New York City company employs about 30 people. He said the money would help the company expand to new markets and test new software functions.

Luke Dirks, founding partner of Submarine Hospitality, which owns two restaurants in Portland, Ore., said Resy is an affordable option because it doesn’t charge a booking fee for each diner.

He said he hoped to one day use software Resy is testing that remembers customers’ eating preferences and can allow for payments through its app, hastening table turnover.

In April, Resy will begin allowing for reservations to be made through Airbnb’s app, Mr. Leventhal said. Airbnb, which will gain a Resy board seat, announced the partnership late last year while revealing plans to allow for booking experiences such as cooking classes and guided city tours, as well as airplane tickets and other services.

Resy originally allowed customers to pay for reservations, ostensibly bidding for the most desirable tables at the last minute. However, it has since backed off the system and is experimenting with other technologies such as software on the Apple Watch that alerts waiters when customers have been seated in their section.

Resy faces competition from other startups seeking to upend OpenTable’s market-share dominance, including Reso, Reserve and Yelp Inc.’s SeatMe. The companies typically charge restaurants an annual fee for use of their software.

Airbnb, which has raised more than $3 billion in funding, is valued by investors at $30 billion.

Corrections & Amplifications:
Airbnb didn’t invest in Tiny RX Inc. or LoungeBuddy Inc.; separately, Resy will begin allowing for reservations to be made through Airbnb’s app in April. An earlier version of this article, citing PitchBook data, incorrectly said Airbnb had participated in funding rounds for Tiny RX and LoungeBuddy; it also incorrectly stated Resy reservations would come to the Airbnb app starting in February. (Jan. 9, 2016).

Soure: WSJ

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