Inspirato Reportedly Closing Big VC Round at $500m-or-So Valuation

By Sarah Lacy , written on January 30, 2012

From The News Desk

We're hearing that luxury home time-share company Inspirato is in the process of closing a large round of funding at a substantially higher valuation.

The last round was $17.5 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, CrunchFund and baseball player Mark Teixeira.* It closed just a few months ago in October, so if our sources are right, it's a quick trip back to the funding well.

Inspirato counts a flood of wealthy individuals as investors as well. That's not surprising, given they are pretty much the target market. If they weren't excited enough to invest, Inspirato's value proposition might be in some trouble. Back in October, the site had close to 1,000 members each paying $15,000 each for a life-long membership that allows them to rent luxury villas in exotic parts of the world for 1/4 the normal price.

We're told the last round was done at a price valuing the company at just under $100 million, and that this round's valuation is a multiple of that. Our sense is somewhere in the $400 million to $500 million range.

In addition to investing, Michael Arrington has written about Inspirato a lot. Read his previous coverage here and here. (Crunchfund is also an investor in PandoDaily, which makes it all the more annoying that he wouldn't comment on the round.)

Inspirato is an interesting "goldilocks" model on the high-end vacation home business. Competitors like Exclusive Resorts and Quintess charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for memberships, and started to have challenges when the market dried up. Inspirato is a lot cheaper, because they lease the homes instead of buying them. The founders include Brad Handler, who is the cofounder and former CEO of Exclusive Resorts.

They smartly used a PayPal-like marketing technique to get more users, where members would get $1,000 credits for referring friends. The company was cash-flow positive back in October, so our guess is the extra money will be used to add more properties, making the deal for people richer than me even sweeter.

Nothing conclusive on who is leading this round, but we'll report more when we hear it.

(*Yankees suck.)