Silicon Valley giant Airbnb has just finalized a deal to buy Tilt, a social payment startup co-founded by Egyptian entrepreneur Khaled Hussein and James Beshara, for an undisclosed amount.
According to TechCrunch, Airbnb acquired the company in a move to gain top talent in the payments space to complement trip-booking. Recently, the startup – now valued at $30 billion – acquired Luxury Retreats, and in the past year they also bought ChangeCoin and Trip4real.
Founded in 2012, Tilt was one of the pioneers in peer-to-peer payments, competing with PayPal’s Venmo and Square Cash. According to its founders, more than 500,000 groups completed trips and split bills via its system so far. The move would thus allow Airbnb to offer travelers the chance of sharing the cost of a rental and, since one of the company’s edges is handling cross-currency payments, Airbnb could also leverage on it when matching travelers internationally.
Egyptian co-founder Hussein, who hails from Alexandria, had studied Computer Science and Human Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech, and was starting his PhD program when he joined his first startup, which was acquired by Rackspace.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Alexandria-born entrepreneur Hussein said that the Egyptian revolution had much to do with his joining Tilt. The company, which started off when his co-founder Beshara was working in South Africa, was initially a spin off a startup where people could collaborate and donate to international development organizations. “Around that time I was thinking about social impact; the first Egyptian revolution was happening on Facebook, [and I was] seeing how tech could have a huge impact on people’s lives,” he said. “James was pitching Tilt to me, and I was like, that’s it. That’s where I’m gonna go.”
The startup had previously sealed an investment deal of over $60 million, which included heavy weights like SV Angel Andreessen Horowitz and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Although the amount of the acquisition was undisclosed, some estimate it at over the $60 million Tilt had previously raised.