Airbnb's atypical unicorn story
08/09/2019|5:41:32 PM|Forbes

Investors riding the wave of technology public offerings have been waiting for a powerhouse debut from Airbnb, which logged its 500 millionth customer booking in March. After all, the home-sharing giant isn’t your typical unicorn.

Unlike some of its Silicon Valley neighbors, Airbnb’s disruptive power stems from its ability to identify and meet evolving customer needs, not its technology, says Thales S. Teixeira, author of the new book Unlocking the Customer Value Chain: How Decoupling Drives Consumer Disruption. 

Hotels focus on customers from the time they enter their doors to when they leave. Airlines focus on the flight experience. Tour operators focus on the tours. They haven't encroached much on each other's territory. Part of the reason is that it's very expensive to go beyond their markets. These companies need to maximize the utilization rate of their assets.

Airbnb doesn't have any of these assets. By the nature of its platform, the company can go into new aspects of the customer value chain without putting much money upfront. And that's why it has grown so quickly into adjacent services.

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