In what appears to be a strange pairing, Airbnb has acquired Lapka, a Russian industrial design firm. Lapka is known for designing environmental sensors for smartphones and black ceramic tubes. Neither of the companies discussed the financial details of the acquisition.
In case the name doesn't strike a cord, it's not your fault. The five-person company Lapka doesn't make many standalone products that you can purchase from the market. That could change soon, however. Though for now, the companies won't say how they are going to work together.
"What we're capable of building together is beyond explanation, so let's leave that for later news. The future is long." Airbnb told Wired. "Since the moment Lapka launched their first product," said Airbnb cofounder Joe Gebbia, "I have been inspired by their impressive design sensibilities - a combination of beauty, form, and story."
Airbnb could tap on Lapka's sensor technologies into a range of ways. For instance, it could tell when a guest has arrived at the hotel, and it could allow users to check in to their place without using keys. And, of course, Lapka could design accessories for Airbnb, which the hotel company would sell exclusively.
Lapka has previously launched a modular environmental sensor that can scan the quality of food and air. Airbnb could also use Lapka's expertise on this field to provide better services to its customers. But what seems more likely is that Lapka will continue to design products instead of making a product. That's been a strategy it has stuck to for years.
The latest acquisition is one of the many buyouts Airbnb has made in the recent years. The company, which maintains a network of 1.2 million homes, acquired a German competitor Accoleo in 2011. In 2012, it acquired a New York-based startup Nabewise. The same year, it acquired DailyBooth, Localmind, and Crashpadder.