Airbnb to award $1MM for ‘World’s Most Unique Home’ ideas

Some folks like it strange. We know Airbnb does. The global hospitality phenom has set aside $1 million through its Unique Airbnb Fund to “find and help finance the most unconventional and unusual livable spaces on the planet,” the company said in a statement.

An expert panel of design and style innovators will select 10 winners. Among the judges are Emmy, Tony and GRAMMY Award-winning actor Billy Porter, Airbnb host Kristie Wolfe of the Big Idaho Potato Hotel, and global and cutting-edge architectural firm MVRDV.

Think strange homes are just passive entertainment? Think again. There’s growing interest to experience unexpected and unique spaces when it comes to dwellings. In 2019, searches on Airbnb for shepherd huts, windmills and tiny houses spiked nearly 70%, the company said, and some of the most booked listings of all time, include domes, tree houses, and yurts across the world.

The Unique Airbnb Fund promotes entrepreneurship inspired by the company’s three co-founders who created the venue “to enable anyone with an extraordinary house idea to design it, build it and share it with travelers all over the world,” Airbnb said. The contest is designed to find and help finance the most eccentric livable spaces on the planet.

Got a weird idea you want to submit? Home designers can submit their proposals at airbnb.com/uniquefund. The competition opened yesterday, March 10, 2020.  

This great initiative makes hospitality exciting, says MVRDV partner Fokke Moerel. “It will empower people to create new spaces with daring, imaginative and fantastic architecture.”





NewRez LLC adds new leadership

NewRez LLC announced the addition of two executive roles to the company leadership: president and chief marketing officer.

Thirty-year financial industry veteran Baron Silverstein is the new president of NewRez. Reporting to NewRez chief executive officer, Bruce Williams, Silverstein will oversee all of the company’s operating divisions including mortgage origination, servicing and NewRez affiliates such as title agency Avenue 365 Lender Services, LLC and eStreet Appraisal Management LLC.

Silverstein brings significant mortgage and capital markets expertise to NewRez. Most recently, as head of residential mortgage finance at Bank of America Securities, he was responsible for all mortgage loan activity from origination to securitization for 12 years. Prior he held mortgage and mortgage-backed security finance leadership roles at J.P. Morgan and at Bear Stearns.

Neeraj Kalani joins NewRez in the newly created role of chief marketing officer. Kalani will oversee the planning, development and execution of marketing, customer experience and advertising for NewRez’s mortgage origination and servicing businesses.

Kalani’s over 20 years of corporate marketing and customer strategy experience includes most recently, as head of global customer strategy at Pfizer Inc., another 11 years at PepsiCo., where he supported the company’s U.S. and global market brand strategy, and prior experiences at The Clorox Company, General Electric, and Hewlett Packard.

Kalani brings “deep marketing experience across a variety of industries and products,” and a successful track record in building brand recognition, Williams said.“We expect these additions will contribute to additional growth” of NewRez’s mortgage platform.

Coronavirus raises demand for SaaS services and remote work

As coronavirus pandemic spreads, TechCrunch reported demand for remote work service providers startups known as SaaS (software as a service), increased dramatically during the past couple of months.

TechCrunch reports most SaaS startups are reporting increased demand from new users. Such list includes Zoom, HiveIO, Friday, Brandlive, Kentik, Bluescape, LogMein.

And, you know FreeConferenceCall’s ubiquitous conference call hold music? Well, you may be hearing it even more. The popular app reported increased use across the globe, consistent with where the coronavirus is spreading. Specifically:

  • United States and United Kingdom: 6%
  • India: around 10%
  • France and South Korea: 20%
  • Italy: 170%
  • China: 524%
  • Hong Kong: 1576%
  • Vietnam: 3836%

The pandemic will fuel new demand for remote work setups that are not always easy. SaaS demand aside, the challenge is not just about physical locations, or great software tools tested already by remote-first companies, TechCrunch notes, it also is “about the need for people to feel connected and stay informed.”

Easy to use tools, business and staff smart workplace norms and practices help too. If staff does not like HipChat because they like Slack better, so be it, experts say, plan, communicate and prepare. TechCrunch suggests “low-code and no-code tooling as a possible way to empower remote workers.”

Business executives should benefit from the example of many Silicon Valley companies that were switching to remote-first immediately after the coronavirus started becoming a global pandemic. The good news is there is an app for everything, as the story goes. Great software tools are already available on the market.

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