Pandemic-hit Lyric spins off Wheelhouse, raises $16M funding

Lyric, a heavily backed short-term rental startup that lost its way during the COVID-19 pandemic, has grown into a B2B company known as Wheelhouse and a stack of fresh funding.

The company landed a $16 million funding round led by NEA and Highgate Ventures, along with Signalfire, Fifth Wall, Tishman Speyer, 01 Advisors, Certares, RXR and PAR Capital.

Wheelhouse is positioned as a revenue management and economic intelligence service for property management companies in the alternative accommodation sector.

The company is essentially a spin-off of the original Lyric business, refocusing the Wheelhouse Pro system which was developed in-house in 2019.

Even before the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic hit, in the first week or March 2020, Lyric had downsized by laying off 25 of its employees and cut a third of its rental units.

This was the start of a process of shutting down the original company, including the departure of co-founder Joe Fraiman.

But CEO Andrew Kitchell stuck with a small team and the technology of Wheelhouse Pro, eventually creating the new company that caught the attention of many of its initial investors.

One backer that didn’t participate this time is Airbnb, which led a $160 million Series B round in April 2019 in Lyric.

“We believe travelers and residents will continue to seek flexible travel and rental options that allow them to live and work anywhere.

“Wheelhouse builds technology that helps businesses in our space thrive, so they can deliver unique and incredible experiences to the guests and residents who stay with them.”

Like many of its competitors in the space, Wheelhouse connects to Tripadvisor, Hostfully, Guesty, and Airbnb for dynamic pricing, market reports, and competitive analysis tools.