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Airbnb nabs Amazon Prime chief to run its core business

Greg Greeley, who ran Amazon’s popular membership program, will lead Airbnb's homes segment when he joins the company this month.

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Airbnb has several tiers of rentals it offers on its site, including vacation homes, B&Bs and boutique hotels. Here, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky talks about rentals for entire families.

James Martin/CNET

As Airbnb expands its home rentals focus to include everything from yurts to luxury villas, it's hiring a president of homes -- Greg Greeley.

Greeley joins the lodgings company from Amazon, where he worked for the past 18 years and most recently was the global head of Amazon Prime. Greeley will officially join Airbnb on March 18, according to a source familiar with the hiring.

Airbnb has shifted its focus over the last few years as it's been regulated by lawmakers around the world and dealt with competition from hotels and other lodging sites, like VRBO. The company announced a major overhaul last month that better defines the types of rentals people can book on the site, including vacation homes, unique spaces, B&Bs and boutique hotels.

The company's business is divided into four units -- homes, trips, luxury and China. Airbnb picked Greeley to lead its homes segment -- its core business -- because he focuses on customers, helped Amazon expand globally and loves travel, according to the source familiar with the hiring.

"Greg brought me to Amazon and I could not have asked for a better mentor and colleague," said former Amazon executive Julie Todaro. "Greg has supported me at every stage in my career and I'm not alone. There are countless women and men in businesses around the world who have learned from Greg and benefitted from his guidance and friendship."

Greeley, who oversaw Prime starting in 2013, helped lead Amazon's work to speed up its Prime shipping to same-day deliveries in some US cities, as well as launch the popular Prime Day sale. Recently, he'd been focused more on integrating Whole Foods with Amazon, CNBC reported last month. Neil Lindsay, who's spent seven years at Amazon overseeing worldwide marketing, is now in charge of Prime.

"It has been an amazing and inspirational experience, but the time has come for me to take on a different challenge," Greeley said in a post on LinkedIn about his departure from Amazon.

It's hard to overstate Prime's importance to Amazon. The membership program has created loyal customers who are more likely to buy Amazon-made electronics, watch Amazon shows and spend roughly twice as much as non-Prime customers on the company's online store.

Amazon has never disclosed the number of Prime members it has, but estimates in the US range from 50 million to 90 million members.

"We thank Greg for his contributions to Amazon and wish him the best in his new role," an Amazon spokesperson said Tuesday.

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