High-end property sharing startup Sonder ($PRIVATE:SONDER) has a unicorn-sized valuation, the attention of leading startup trackers, and a few competitors that are eager to get into its lucrative business.
But it has competitors out to eat its lunch in the luxury rental space - among them, Lyric ($PRIVATE:STAYLYRIC). As the startups battle for employees and consumer attention, their partners and investors could have an outsized impact on the success of each.
San Francisco-based Sonder nearly doubled headcount in 2019, after raising $225 million this summer from backers including Valor Equity and Westcap. It reeled in a total of $360 million in funding along the way - about double what its biggest competitor, New York City-based Lyric, has tacked on in funding.
The result so far? Sonder's LinkedIn ($MSFT) Headcount is nearly four times the size of Lyric's. Domio ($PRIVATE:STAYDOMIO), another home-sharing startup, isn't included - that startup's headcount tracked via LinkedIn recently crossed the 100-person threshold, according to data. When LinkedIn put together its Top 50 Startups List earlier this year, Sonder and Domio both made the cut.
Once again - advantage Sonder. The company's Facebook ($FB) Talking About Count is substantially greater than Lyric's, signaling a dominant social advantage that has continued historically. Sonder has so many more likes than Lyric (around 20x) that it's difficult to illustrate how much its users like it, compared to Lyric.
When Crunchbase News reported on Sonder's most recent fundraising in pointed out that Sonder properties can also be accessed via online travel agencies like Airbnb and Expedia - key partnerships for developing scale.
However, Lyric has a valuable backer that can help it get a leg up, in the long run: in its last round, in which the home sharing company took in more than $160 million in cash and debt, Airbnb was lead investor. With its funding, Lyric aims to find realtors it can partner with to manage apartment buildings to run as high-end short-term rentals. Both companies are armed with boldface-name investors and hundreds of millions in capital, so the biggest variables between Lyric and Sonder's battle for high-end rental supremacy may simply come down to cash, and strategy, next.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.