German startup Wimdu, an “Airbnb killer” generously funded by the venture builder Rocket Internet, is shutting down, Gründerszene reports. The company is said to lay off some 50 employees in Berlin and another 60 in Lisbon by the year's end. It is the financial investor Platinum Equity, which acquired Wimdu and a number other properties in 2018, that has allegedly pulled the plug on the scale-up.
Founded in 2011, Wimdu raised a total of $90 million from Rocket Internet and Kinnevik to take over Airbnb in Europe. It scaled rapidly, employing some 400 people a few months after launch, while its American counterpart only had 40 staff.
Despite having a huge war chest and a lot of hands on deck, Wimdu seems to have never gotten quite close to market domination. In 2016, the company had to let go of 60 out of 250 employees; at the time, Rocket Internet kept Wimdu in the low-turnover section of its portfolio dubbed “New Companies.”
Over the next two years, Wimdu repeatedly changed hands, which didn't make things better. First, it merged with a competitor 9flats; shortly after, it was acquired by Novasol, a Danish holiday apartment operator. At the time of the acquisition, the chairman of Novasol Bernd Muckenschnabel said that he wanted to keep the 125 employees of Wimdu provided the company turned a profit by the end of 2017. Earlier this year, Novasol itself was acquired by Platinum Equity as part of a $1.3 billion deal with Wyndham Worldwide.