Airbnb snags top Amazon executive in charge of Prime business

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - One of Inc’s longtime executives is leaving the company to join Airbnb Inc, filling a key position as the home-renting business focuses on growth in Latin America and Asia.

Greg Greeley, who was vice president of Amazon Prime and is credited with building the delivery service into one of the e-commerce industry’s most successful programs, with an estimated 90 million members in the United States, is joining Airbnb, it said on Tuesday. In his new role, as president of homes, Greeley will oversee the daily operations and strategy of Airbnb’s core home-renting business.

Airbnb has four business units, and the homes unit was the only one without a permanent boss. Chief Executive Brian Chesky had been filling in temporarily.

The home-renting business, which is profitable, includes more than 4.5 million listings in 81,000 cities.

Greeley starts this month at Airbnb’s San Francisco headquarters.

Most recently, Greeley was tasked with making Prime the loyalty program of Whole Foods Market, the upscale grocer that Amazon acquired last year. It was not clear how his departure from Amazon might affect the Whole Foods integration, if at all.

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

In his more than 18 years at Amazon, Greeley helped lead the company’s international expansion, running European operations and opening offices in India and Brazil.

That experience may bode well for Airbnb’s ambitions in emerging markets. Faced with regulatory restrictions in the United States and Europe that have limited home-renting, Airbnb has increasingly turned to Latin America and Asia, markets Chesky has said will more than make up for revenue losses in more regulated cities.

About 81 percent of Airbnb’s business is outside of North America, according to the company.

While Greeley was living in Europe and working for Amazon, travel aggregator site tried to hire him to be CEO, according to a source with knowledge of the matter. He declined.

Greeley helped create and grow Amazon’s Prime business, which launched in 2005. While Airbnb does not have a loyalty program near the scale of Prime, it has similar aspirations. Last month the company announced new perks and rewards for home renters and hosts in a bid to encourage more loyalty and spending among its top users.

Airbnb is still recruiting for two top executive positions -- chief marketing officer and chief financial officer.

Reporting by Heather Somerville and Jeffrey Dastin; Editing by Dan Grebler