Airbnb has acquired a secretive new AI startup, Gameplanner.AI, the company announced this morning. CNBC reports that the purchase price was around $200 million, a figure which TechCrunch was unable to confirm at publication time.
Gameplanner was co-founded by Adam Cheyer and Siamak Hodjat. Cheyer famously helped to co-launch the startup Siri, which Apple acquired and whose technology became the basis for Apple’s AI-powered Siri assistant. Hodjat previously worked with Cheyer at Viv Labs, a firm that Samsung bought and leveraged to launch its own AI assistant, Bixby, in 2017.
It’s not immediately clear what Gameplanner does. A LinkedIn search only turns up two associates: Gabe Greenbaum, a general partner at B Capital who sits on Gameplanner’s board of directors, and Joseph Huang, head of design at Gameplanner. Gameplanner hasn’t had a web presence for sime time; the Internet Archive’s earliest cache of the website (from December 2021) yields a blank page.
But in a canned statement, Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky hinted that the 12-person startup combines expertise in AI and design toward crafting AI-driven experiences, sort of like an AI-focused consultancy.
“AI will rapidly alter our world more than any other technology in our lifetime, but we need to ensure that it augments humanity in a positive way,” Chesky said, adding that the Gameplanner team will focus on “accelerating” select AI projects and integrating their tooling into Airbnb’s platform. “Airbnb is one of the more humanistic companies in technology, and I believe that, together with Adam and his team, we can develop some of the best interfaces and practical applications for AI.”
Chesky has made his AI ambitions for Airbnb clear in the recent past, saying that he wants to use generative AI to build a “travel concierge” that learns about — and adapts to — travelers. Given that Gameplanner marks Airbnb’s first acquisition since 2019 (and its first as a public company), it seems he’s serious about bringing that vision to fruition.