Venture

Introducing The Newest Travel Unicorn: Portland, Oregon’s Vacasa

Portland, Ore.-based Vacasa, an international vacation rental company, has raised a $319 million Series C. The round was led by Silver Lake, a private investment firm based in Menlo Park, Calif., according to a press release.

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The financing news comes a few months after Vacasa purchased Wyndham Vacation Rentals for $162 million. Inclusive of the Series C round, Vacasa’s total known funding to date is $526.5 million, per Crunchbase data.

When it comes to a vacation rental marketplace, a few elephants in the room come to mind: Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway also operate in similar spaces. However, instead of viewing these companies as competitors, Vacasa lists them as “partners” on its website. Let’s explore that a bit in the next section, because it’s a head scratcher.

What It Does

Vacasa has over 5,000 employees connecting customers to over 23,000 homes, according to a release. Properties are located all over the world, from a Yosemite cabin to an Emerald Coast beach house.

But when it comes to differentiating itself from other rental marketplaces, Sarah Tatone, Vacasa’s head of communications, said that the company “takes care of all aspects of managing a vacation home, from marketing to booking, to housekeeping and maintenance, to taxes.”

The company also caters to users in the market to buy a home, or to become a real estate agent to help sell some properties. Agents can join a free “expert agent network” to leverage sales tools and leads from the Vacasa database.

As for its would-be competitors, Vacasa offers robust property management, such as a team dedicated for rental interior design services. Think linen programs, hot tub installation and maintenance, and smart locks. It also hires and trains dedicated housekeepers. On top of this, guests have access to a mobile app and 24/7 service.

Therein lies the “partners” angle.

Vacasa lists these Vacasa-managed homes on sites like Airbnb, Homeaway, Expedia, and Booking.com, instead of solely competing with them. Vacasa’s Tatone says that this helps the aforementioned sites with “much needed inventory” and helps the company itself by increasing bookings for homeowners.

This said, within the overlap (homeowners choosing which platform to list their property on), Vacasa puts forth the following statistic: “homeowners that switch to Vacasa earn 31% more income on average in their first year.”

All this in mind, at least to investors, a more comprehensive vacationing experience is welcomed. Today’s news has elevated Vacasa to unicorn status, as it surpasses over $1 billion in valuation.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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