A venture-capital group that includes high-profile hotelier Barry Sternlicht has invested in a startup that plans to add a new upscale and branded dimension to the short-term rental business pioneered by companies like Airbnb Inc., The Wall Street Journal reports. The group, including New Enterprise Associates and Fifth Wall Ventures, has made a $15.5 million equity investment in San Francisco-based AJJK Inc., according to the business newspaper.
AJJK has started a service—launched three years ago as Parallel but soon to be known as Lyric—for corporate travelers that is listed on Airbnb and other hotel booking sites. The service has launched in eight markets, including Austin, Texas, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., by cutting deals for blocks of apartments with big landlords, the Journal reports. Andrew Kitchell, co-founder and chief executive of AJJK (which is also changing its name to Lyric), told the newspaper, “It’s unique inventory operated like a four- or five-star hotel.”