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Airbnb May Start Designing, Building Residences For Short-Term Rentals

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Airbnb initiated a transformational change in the hospitality industry when it launched, and the San Francisco-based home-sharing giant is now attempting to do something similar with homebuilding.

Airbnb May Start Designing, Building Residences For Short-Term Rentals
A selection of architectural samples for Samara's Backyard project

Airbnb co-founder and Chief Product Officer Joe Gebbia announced to Fast Company on Thursday the 2019 launch of Backyard, a new venture cooked up by the company's futures division called Samara.

In a statement, Airbnb called Backyard "an endeavor to design and prototype new ways of building and sharing homes," indicating that both single-family and multifamily construction are on the table. Whatever Backyard builds, it will be optimized to be listed on Airbnb as a shared unit.

Gebbia cautioned that Backyard is still in its embryonic stage and could go in any number of directions, but the initiative's self-characterization of adaptable living implies that modular, customizable dwellings will be part of the process. True to startup form, technology will be at the heart of what Backyard does – its project lead, Fedor Novikov, has a background in robotic engineering for NASA.

Airbnb is one of the most valuable startups in the world at $38B (according to Forbes), but the field of home-sharing and short-term rentals has become increasingly crowded, with other startups and legacy hotel companies joining the fray. Combined with the added cost of regulations popping up everywhere, Airbnb has felt the urgency to expand its business with deals like the multifamily development partnership Niido Powered by Airbnb.