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Vacation home rental matchmaker HomeAway just received a reported $25 million investment from Google Ventures, as corporate venture arms increasingly look for ways to invest in high-revenue, pre-IPO companies.
The New York Times first broke the story. Neither Google Ventures nor HomeAway could be reached for confirmation of the monetary amount of the deal.
Though the amount of the investment was not disclosed, TechCrunch quoted an unnamed source today as saying Google’s year-old venture arm had plunked down as much as $25 million at a $1.4 billion valuation.
However much the actual investment was, the deal is yet one more chapter in a closely watched controversy over just how active super angels and corporates have been this year.
Austin, Texas-based HomeAway offers a site for homeowners to list their properties for potential travelers to rent while on vacation or long-term business.
The company makes money by charging homeowners to feature their properties and via various advertising and sponsorship deals. Earlier this year, TechCrunch reported that HomeAway was bringing in around $200 million in revenue, with about $70 million in profit.
The vacation home rental company conducted a major buying spree to become one of the dominant players in the space. This included snatching up more than a dozen similar vacation rental websites including HomeAway.co.uk and OwnersDirect.co.uk in the United Kingdom; HomeAway.de in Germany; Abritel.fr and Homelidays.com in France; HomeAway.es in Spain; and AlugueTemporada.com.br in Brazil.
It also bought out U.S. competitor VacationRentals.com in 2007 and VRBO a year later. The company has been a go-getter from the start, money-wise: Thus far, it has raised $470 million in five years and is rumored to be eyeing a 2011 IPO.
Two years ago, the U.S. vacation rental marketplace alone was valued at more than $24 billion, according to a research study by Illuminas, an international research consultancy that did the research on behalf of HomeAway.
The company said today it will use the money to revamp its website and push more aggressively into the Asian and Australian markets.
HomeAway said Google Venture’s relative youth made it a good fit for a company trying to shift its focus from business building to brandmaking.
“Google is a product and engineering-centric company that is growing up and becoming more of a business,” founder and chief executive Brian Sharples told the New York Times. “HomeAway came from more of a business, deal-making culture and now we’re trying to move the company to more of an engineering and product culture.”
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