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US rent-a-room biz swallows Blighty's Crashpadder

Hopes to grab some of the London Olympics rental moolah

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American rent-a-room service AirBnB is hoping to grab a slice of the lucrative London Olympic-time rentals by buying out smaller British rival CrashPadder.

AirBnB bought out the British company yesterday for an undisclosed sum. Both sites provide a social network cum advertising service for short-term and holiday rentals. A posting on the Crashpadder homepage today informed users that all listings and personal profiles on CrashPadder will be shifted onto the Air BnB platform as of today.

CrashPadder had 7,000 members across the world, mainly in the UK where Dan Hill and Stephen Rapoport founded the company in 2008.

The most significant difference for users will be Air BnB's £30,000 host guarantee, free professional photography for properties and 24/7 support.

The buyout will help Air BnB expand in Europe – one of its ambitions for 2012 – and take advantage of the boom expected from Olympics-related rentals.

Air BnB has built a business by connecting people interested in short-term rentals. By charging fees to list a property and taking a cut of the rentals paid, the start-up has created a lucrative business from what sites such as CouchSurfer and Craigslist run as a free service.

AirBnB have attracted $120m in venture funding. The ride hasn't been entirely smooth however, in one horror story from summer 2011, an AirBnB landlord had her house thoroughly ransacked by thieves who snatched her locked-up jewellery, computers and Bed Bath & Beyond tokens; wore her clothes; and photocopied her birth certificate and social security card. ®

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