Airbnb just announced it has raised $31B for the creation of a new initiative, Backyard. Backyard’s mission is to “design and prototype new ways of building and sharing homes.”
What with Amazon creating brick and mortar hub centers to sell its goods and groceries and Airbnb creating Backyard to create alternative corporate travel-stay options, are we on the cusp of technology’s latest efforts to expand the digital world by investing in built environments?
Backyard’s co-founder Joe Gebbia said, “ This new initiative is an endeavor to design and prototype new ways of building and sharing homes. We’re using sophisticated management techniques, smart home technologies and experience to reimagine the design of homes.”
Currently, the Backyard team includes ”… industrial designers, interaction designers, architects, roboticists, mechanical and hardware engineers, material specialists and policy expert,” said Gebbia. And currently, there is not yet a prototype. The prototype could include prefabricated dwellings, stand alone houses and multi-unit complexes, but nothing is set in stone.
Why the focus on creating corporate travel options? Airbnb has been so successful in disrupting individual travel options that used to center around hotels in the good old days prior to 2010 that many business and corporate travelers now prefer long-term stays in Airbnb/home settings. And now, Airbnb needs more inventory to accommodate the demand it’s created.
Gebbia concluded by saying, “Homes are complex and we’re taking a broad approach. Backyard is not just designing one thing…we’re designing a system of homes that can do many things.”
Homes for sharing; homes for staying; homes for on-going living; homes for multi-generations; homes for diverse income levels? Gebbia and all the folks associated with Airbnb anticipate “testing” Backyard’s housing units and communities by autumn 2019.