Onefinestay, London’s upmarket competitor to Airbnb, sold to French hotel chain AccorHotels in April for £117 million. Now, on stage at the Europas technology conference in London, CEO Greg Marsh explained how that deal came to be.
“It was about mid-December last year that Accor CEO Sébastien Bazin approached via one of the founders of [French ridesharing startup] Blablacar, and we had a conversation,” Marsh said. “We had the same level of ambition, then it was a question of finding the right deal.”
Marsh explained that at the time of the AccorHotels deal, Onefinestay wasn’t actively seeking a buyer. Instead, the company intended to carry on growing. But it became clear that selling to AccorHotels was the right decision for the company.
“To achieve what we can achieve would have cost $200 million (£141 million) in private market funding. It would have been difficult, a bumpy road. We would have had to feel pretty sure that there was a multi-billion dollar outcome. [It would have been] five years of very hard work with a very high level of risk.”
Unlike Airbnb, Onefinestay included a support service and specialised in luxury apartments. That made it a good fit for the French hotel chain. The upmarket Airbnb-style platform, founded in 2009, currently operates in London, New York, Paris, Rome, and Los Angeles.
Marsh was asked on stage by TechCrunch editor-at-large Mike Butcher what he would have done differently in building his company. He explained that “I would have advised my earlier self to have more of a support network. There are periods of the journey that are truly tough. They’re maybe toughest for a founder when things are going best. There are periods when you’re lonely or tired or it’s too hard and you feel the game is not worth the candle. That’s when you need people to turn to who can be practically supportive as well as emotionally supportive.”
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