Friday, November 14, 2008

HomeAway Gets Millions in Financing; CEO Hopes to Spread Word of Rental Riches

The real estate market may have cratered, but venture capital obviously is still available for Websites that dominate a portion of the crowded online real estate world. HomeAway, which calls itself the world’s leading online vacation rental marketplace, has announced an infusion of $250 million in private financing. That's a record -- it represents the largest minority investment of a U.S. Internet company in the last eight years, according to Venture Source.

HomeAway describes itself as operating "the world’s leading and most-established vacation rental sites including HomeAway.com, VRBO.com, VacationRentals.com, Holiday-Rentals.co.uk, FeWo-direkt.de, Ownersdirect.co.uk and Abritel.fr. Featuring more than 309,000 vacation rentals in destinations ranging from big cities to remote countrysides." It will use the dough in part to "fund additional strategic investments, eliminate all debt and provide working capital for increased marketing and promotions."

Brian Sharples, chief executive officer and founder of HomeAway, says he wants to raise the profile of vacation homes as money-making opportunities for their owners. "There are nearly 14 million vacation home owners in the U.S. and Europe, and most are still not aware of how easy and profitable it can be to rent their homes, even if for just a few weeks each year," he said.

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