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Airbnb buys Crashpadder, its largest U.K. competitor

Gearing up for the 2012 Olympics in London, the U.S.-based peer-to-peer accommodation booking site snaps up its U.K. rival.

Two of the largest accommodation booking sites used in the U.K. have teamed up for this summer's Olympic Games.

Airbnb--an online marketplace where travelers find and book places rented out by homeowners, renters, and landlords--announced today that it had acquired its largest U.K. competitor--Crashpadder. Rather than sleeping in hotels or couch surfing, travelers can short-term lease apartments, houses, condos, and even castles through these sites.

U.S.-based Airbnb launched in 2008 and has since grown to have an accommodation database that serves more than 19,000 cities in 192 countries and has booked more than 5 million guest nights. Although Airbnb has done well since it started operating in the U.K., growing by 748 percent in 2011, it never managed to outdo Crashpadder.

This acquisition makes Airbnb the largest source for peer-to-peer accommodation booking in the U.K., according to the site, since Crashpadder's community will now merge with Airbnb's. All listings will now be bookable through Airbnb, and Crashpadder members get features like a 24-hour helpline, free professional photography, and a $50,000 guarantee.

"We've spent the past three years working to create a business that our community loves," founder and CEO of Crashpadder Stephen Rapoport said in a statement, "and we could not have found a better home for them than Airbnb."

According to Airbnb, one of the reasons for the acquisition was to corner the market and increase usership during this summer's Olympic games in London.

"We knew that London was going to be a major focus for us in 2012 with the Olympics on the horizon," co-founder and CEO of Airbnb Brian Chesky said in a statement. "Now, with the addition of the Crashpadder community we are making huge strides to ensure that thousands of Olympic visitors will have a unique and local experience as Londoners open their door to the world during the games and beyond."

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.