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Airbnb has well and truly disrupted the world of travel accommodation, changing the conversation not just around how people discover and book places to stay, but what they expect when they get there, and what they expect to pay. Today, one of the startups riding that wave is announcing a significant round of funding to fuel its own contribution to the marketplace.

Domio, a startup that designs and then rents out apart-hotels with kitchens and other full-home experiences, has raised $100 million ($50 million in equity and $50 million in debt) to expand its business in the U.S. and globally to 25 markets by next year, up from 12 today. Its target customers are millennials traveling in groups or families swayed by the size and scope of the accommodation — typically five times bigger than the average hotel room — as well as the price, which is on average 25% cheaper than a hotel room.

The Series B, which actually closed in August of this year, was led by GGV Capital, with participation from Eldridge Industries, 3L Capital, Tribeca Venture Partners, SoftBank NY, Tenaya Capital and Upper90. Upper90 also led the debt round, which will be used to lease and set up new properties.

Domio is not disclosing its valuation, but Jay Roberts, the founder and CEO, said in an interview that it’s a “huge upround” and around 50x the valuation it had in its seed round and that the company has tripled its revenues in the last year. Prior to this, Domio had only raised around $17 million, according to data from PitchBook.

For some comparisons, Sonder — another company that rents out serviced apartments to the kind of travelers who have a taste for boutique hotels — earlier this year raised $225 million at a valuation north of $1 billion. Others like Guesty, which are building platforms for others to list and manage their apartments on platforms like Airbnb, recently raised $35 million with a valuation likely in the range of $180 million to $200 million. Airbnb is estimated to be valued around $31 billion.

Domio plays in an interesting corner of the market. For starters, it focuses its accommodations at many of the same demographics as Airbnb. But where Airbnb offers a veritable hodgepodge of rooms and homes — some are people’s homes, some are vacation places, some never had and never will have a private occupant, and across all those the range of quality varies wildly — Domio offers predictability and consistency with its (possibly more anodyne) inventory.

“We are competing with amateur hosts on Airbnb,” said Roberts, who previously worked in real estate investment banking. “This is the next step, a modern brand, the next Marriott but with a more tech-powered brain and operating model.” These are not to be confused with something like Hilton’s Homewood Suites, Roberts stressed to me. He referred to Homewood as “a soulless hotel chain.”

“Domio is the anti-hotel chain,” he added.

Roberts is also quick to describe how Domio is not a real estate company as much as it is a tech-powered business. For starters, it uses quant-style algorithms that it’s built in-house to identify regions where it wants to build out its business, basing it not just on what consumers are searching for, but also weather patterns, economic indicators and other factors. After identifying a city or other location, it works on securing properties.

It typically sets up its accommodations in newer or completely new buildings, where developers — at least up to now — are not usually constructing with short-term rentals in mind. Instead, they are considering an option like Domio as an alternative to selling as condominiums or apartments, something that might come up if they are sensing that there is a softening in the market. “We typically have 75%-78% occupancy,” Roberts said. He added that hotels on average have occupancy rates in the high 60% nationally.

As Domio lengthens its track record — its 12 U.S. markets include Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Phoenix — Roberts says that they’re getting a more select seat at the table in conversations.

“Investors are starting to go out to buy properties on our behalf and lease them to us,” he said. This gives the startup a much more favorable rate and terms on those deals. “The next step is that Domio will manage these directly.” The most recent property it signed, he noted, includes a Whole Foods at the ground level, and a gym.

Using technology to identify where to grow is not the only area where tech plays a role. Roberts said that the company is now working on an app — yet to be released — that will be the epicenter of how guests interact to book places and manage their experience once there.

“Everything you can do by speaking to a human in a traditional hotel you will be able to do with the Domio app,” he said. That will include ordering room service, getting more towels, booking experiences and getting restaurant recommendations. “You can book your Uber through the Domio app, or sync your Spotify account to play music in the apartment.

And there are plans to extend the retail experience using the app. Roberts says it will be a “shoppable” experience where, if you like a sofa or piece of art in the place where you’re staying, you can order it for your own home. You can even order the same wallpaper that’s been designed to decorate Domio apartments.

Ripe for the booking

Although Airbnb has grown to be nearly as ubiquitous as hotels (and perhaps even more prominent, depending on who you are talking to), the wider travel and accommodation market is still ripe for the taking, estimated to reach $171 billion by 2023 and the highest growth sector in the travel industry.

“Airbnb has taught us that hotels are not the only place to stay,” said Hans Tung, GGV’s managing partner. “Domio is capitalizing on the global shift in short-term travel and the consumer demand for branded experiences. From my travels around the world, there is a large, underserved audience — millennials, families, business teams — who prefer the combined benefits of an apartment and hotel in a single branded experience.”

I mentioned to Roberts that the leasing model reminded me a little of WeWork, which itself does not own the property it curates and turns into office space for its tenants. (The SoftBank investor connection is interesting in that regard.) Roberts was very quick to say that it’s not the same kind of business, even if both are based around leased property re-rented out to tenants.

“One of the things we liked about Domio is that is very capital-efficient,” said Tung, “focusing on the model and payback period. The short-term nature of customer stays and the combination of experience/price required to maintain loyal customers are natural enforcers of efficient unit economics.”

“For GGV, Domio stands out in two ways,” he continued. “First, CEO Jay Roberts and the Domio team’s emphasis on execution is impressive, with expansion into 12 cities in just three years. They have the right combination of vision, speed and agility. Domio’s model can readily tap into the global opportunity as they have ambition to scale to new markets. The global travel and tourism spend is $2.8 trillion with 5 billion annual tourists. Global travelers like having the flexibility and convenience of both an apartment and hotel — with Domio they can have both.”

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/17/domio-raises-100m-in-equity-and-debt-to-take-on-airbnb-and-hotels-with-its-curated-apartments/

Undocumented immigrants with any type of criminal charges, such as Juan Carlos Fomperosa Garca, are now a priority for deportation under Trumps order

Juan Carlos Fomperosa Garca planned to celebrate his sons 17th birthday on Thursday. But first, he had to go in for a meeting around 9am with immigration officials in Phoenix for what he believed was to discuss his request for asylum.

He walked in. An hour later, they brought me a bag with his stuff and that was it, said Yennifer Sanchez, Fomperosa Garcas 23-year-old daughter.

The single father of three US citizens, who entered the country 20 years ago, was detained after meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, but never came out, his daughter said, adding that she thought he was safe because he had a work permit.

By Friday morning, Fomperosa Garca had called his children to let them know he had been deported to Mexico.

Now, Sanchez has become the sole guardian of her 17-year-old brother and 14-year-old sister. She said she plans to continue working as a caregiver and, with the moral support of her father, care for her siblings.

They are going to keep going to school, Sanchez said of her siblings. Im going to work. Were going to try to get through this.

To help the family financially, a local organization started fundraising money online. They raised more than $1,300 in less than three hours.

Ayensa Millan, a Phoenix-based immigration attorney who was contacted by Fomperosa Garcas family on Thursday, said she wasnt sure why Fomperosa Garca had the check-in with Ice officials. She said his asylum request had already been denied so there was no reason for them to interview him for an asylum claim.

It sounds to me like they literally just called him to remove him because of his prior removal order, Millan said.

In a statement, Ice confirmed Fomperosa Garca had been deported and that he had been previously repatriated to Mexico three times, including a formal deportation in 2014. Last year, he was again ordered removed by an immigration judge and in 2015 was convicted of a federal misdemeanor charge, according to Ice.

Ice will continue to focus on identifying and removing individuals with criminal convictions who have final orders of removal issued by the nations immigration courts, the statement said.

Fomperosa Garcas deportation comes a few weeks after the deportation of Guadalupe Garca de Rayos, a mother of two US citizens who lived in Arizona for more than two decades. She was also deported after she went in for a check-in with Ice.

But under a new executive order that Donald Trump signed on 25 January, Garca de Rayos became a priority for deportation. The order states that undocumented immigrants should be deported if they have been charged with any criminal offense. The president said the order was needed to ensure the public safety of the American people.

Millan said her advice to undocumented immigrants, especially those with no serious criminal records, is to not be fearful and to pay close attention to whats going on. She noted that most undocumented immigrants whove been deported recently had prior orders of removal or had already been found by an immigration judge to not have strong enough merits to be granted a stay in the US.

For undocumented immigrants whove become a priority for deportation under Trumps new executive order and have pending check-ins with Ice, Millan said she advises them to be prepared and get an immigration attorney. Another option is to seek sanctuary at a church.

I always leave it up my clients discretion and tell them these are the immigration consequences, Millan said. I tell them, If you are going to stay there and go for the long haul, by all means, do it. But its up to them because, when people go into sanctuary places, you never know how long theyre going to be there.

With tears in her eyes, Sanchez said on Friday that her father was nothing like the type of people Trump alludes to when he talks about deporting undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

When you image people breaking the law, you imagine a scary person, she said. You imagine someone who doesnt care for anyone else. When I hear those words being said about my dad and seeing what type of person he is, it hurts. Criminal would never be a way that I would describe my father.

Instead, Sanchez said she would use words like goofball and caring to describe her father, adding that he liked to watch movies, listen to zumba music, dance and make people laugh.

I know that if he was sitting right here right now, he would be making everyone crack up, she said.

  • This article was amended on 4 March 2017 to show Yennifer Sanchez is caring for her two siblings, not daughter and son as previously stated.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/04/single-father-mexico-deported-ice-check-in-arizona-phoenix

Police say July incident suggests shooter may still be on the hunt;citywide alert remains as law enforcement continues patrols

Police investigating nine nighttime drive-by shootings in Phoenix have confirmed they recovered bullet casings from at least three of the crime scenes and received detailed vehicle descriptions from witnesses.

The shootings, which occurred from mid-March to mid-July, are believed to be the work of a serial killer described by witnesses as a lanky man in his early 20s.

Investigators are leaving open the possibility that someone else may have participated in the attacks. Documents released last week showed that shell casings were found at each of the three crime scenes.

In all, seven people have been killed and two others wounded. Witnesses have described hearing anywhere between five and 10 shots, but no one has seen any of the bullets actually being fired.

Police had initially believed that the string of attacks had ended in mid-June when the assailant fatally shot two women and a 12-year-old girl in their driveway.

But police have since added a ninth shooting to the pattern an 11 July incident in which the gunman fired at a man and a four-year-old boy sitting in a car. Neither was struck.

But the addition of the new incident suggests the shooter, or shooters, were still active even after Phoenix law enforcement stepped up their efforts and issued a city wide alert.

Earlier this month, Phoenix Police sergeant Jonathan Howard warned: The threat is still alive.

We dont want to see anybody else get hurt. We want to make an arrest and stop this, he added. Were fortunate in this new incident that nobody was injured.

Based on witness statements to police, detectives believe the suspect has access to several cars: one appears to be a white Cadillac or Lincoln, another a late 90s brown Nissan, and a third may be an early 2000s black BMW. Police confirmed that theyve looked into whether the killer could have access to a used car lot.

In each incident, the victims have been attacked in the working-class Maryvale section of Phoenix, near their car or home and in the evening or very early morning hours.

The victims include a 16-year-old boy wounded while walking in the street at 11.30pm on 17 March; a 21-year-old male shot standing near his car on the street at 11.30pm a day later; 21-year-old Diego Verdugo-Sanchez, killed 1 April while visiting his pregnant fiances family; 55-year-old Krystal Annette White, found dead of a gunshot on 19 April; 32-year-old Horacio Pena, fatally shot 3 June after returning home from work; and 19-year-old Manuel Castro Garcia, murdered outside his home on 10 June.

In the final fatal incident, on 12 June, 33-year-old Stefanie Ellis, her 12-year-old daughter Maleah and Ellis 31-year-old friend, Angela Linner, were killed outside their home. In that incident, a witness told police she saw a man wearing a white shirt and red shorts as he stood beside a dark-colored sedan. A witness also told police that it wasnt unusual for the victims to sit in a parked car listening to music.

Investigators are checking whether neighbors have security camera and pursuing hundreds of leads, and have composed a sketch of teh suspect.

Police later found shell casings inside the victims vehicle, indicating the women were all shot at close range. Police also found nearly $3,000 cash inside the victims vehicle, indicating that robbery was not a motive. That same night, the killer targeted an empty pick-up truck.

This guy shot and killed a 12-year-old girl, Howard told local WRAL news. We hope someone elses conscience catches up with them.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/aug/13/phoenix-police-recover-bullet-casings-serial-killer