We first met HotelTonight co-founders, CEO Sam Shank, Chief Architect Chris Baileyand Board Member, Jared Simon, over eight years ago when we co-led in their seed round. What initially struck us was their audacious vision to change a deeply ingrained user behavior and redefine what travel in a mobile-first world could look like. While the concept itself wasn’t anything new—providing a seamless booking experience to some of the world’s most exclusive hotels at a fraction of the cost—it was how HotelTonight was executing it that was groundbreaking: same-day hotel bookings all via your mobile phone.
That concept may not sound so revolutionary today, but remember: the first iPhone debuted in 2007. While its impact was swift, 3 years in when HotelTonight debuted, the world was still dominated by desktops and there was no such concept as “on-demand”. The idea that you would book a 5-star hotel room the same-day you needed it, and via your mobile device was a very uncomfortable concept; especially in travel where most people were booking hotel rooms weeks or months in advance of a trip.
But it was exactly this foresight to capitalize on an increasingly mobile-first world coupled with a relentless focus to improve the booking experience for consumers and the inventory glut for hotels, that first drew us to Sam, Chris and Jared. The fact that they’ve stayed true to these principles over the years— even as the company and product have scaled to over 1,700 cities in more than 40 countries—is why we chose to invest in every subsequent round since then, becoming HotelTonight’s largest shareholder.
It’s also why today’s news is especially poignant: much like the founders of Airbnb, Sam, Chris and Jared took an industry and flipped it on its head, making the idea of staying in a stranger’s home for a business trip or booking your hotel room the same day of a long-planned family vacation, our new norm. HotelTonight has found a fantastic partner in Airbnb; they will have an even more tremendous reach, and are clearly a key part of Airbnb's broader vision for the future of travel. We are exceptionally proud of their team.
At Accel, we’ve been fortunate to partner with many bold, exceptional entrepreneurs like Sam, Chris and Jared, people we refer to as “originals”. These Accel originals have reshaped facets of our everyday lives, everything from how we communicate (Facebook), collaborate at work (Slack, Atlassian, Dropbox), buy online (Etsy, Jet.com, Flipkart), entertain ourselves (Spotify, Supercell), and as exemplified today, travel.
While one chapter has closed, we have little doubt of the innovative and delightful products and experiences that HotelTonight and Airbnb will create together.
Congratulations to Sam, Chris and Jared the rest of the HotelTonight team! We can’t wait to see what you do next!