Scottish proptech entrepreneur’s ‘deal’ exposed
Grant MacCusker: trail of unsubstantiated claims
A Scottish proptech entrepreneur has been accused of making a series of unsubstantiated claims about his firm’s “acquisition” by Airbnb.
Grant MacCusker, CEO of Letting Cloud, the Edinburgh-based company he founded in 2019, is also said to have named high profile employees whose identities could not be confirmed.
Airbnb immediately denied that it had acquired Mr MacCusker’s firm and now the international law firm he claimed to have worked with has also said it was not involved.
The supposed deal with Airbnb appeared in numerous outlets, including Daily Business, on 11 April . Mr MacCusker was quoted in a press release issued on behalf of Letting Cloud claiming that the deal would help Airbnb navigate the Scottish government’s legislative “changes surrounding short-term holiday lets”.
He said: “Our software behind the main website which conducts all the verification checks required to complete a successful let is what attracted Airbnb. To be honest it hasn’t really sunk in yet!”
That evening, Airbnb issued a statement saying it had no relationship with Letting Cloud. It said it “had no discussions with this company, and we have not acquired – nor do we intend to acquire – this company.”
A quote in the Letting Cloud press release naming Airbnb’s (legitimate) director of engineering, Jordanna Kwok, now appears not to have come from her.
Airbnb’s statement was first reported by travel industry news site Skift and a number of media outlets that ran the original story, including Daily Business, noted the denials.
Following the comments from Airbnb, Letting Cloud issued its own statement saying: “In the wake of recent developments in various media outlets, the matter is now in the hands of our lawyers and we will not be making any further comment at this time.”
Daily Business revealed that the international law firm said to have been involved in the talks was Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, a California-headquartered practice specialising in technology company transactions.
Wilson Sonsini has now denied that it is working with Letting Cloud.
A spokesperson for the firm told the tech website UKTN: “Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati does not represent Letting Cloud or Grant MacCusker in a dispute with Airbnb.”
UKTN has also done a search on Phillip Scott, listed as the chief technology and product officer at Letting Cloud. He is said to have been a senior UX designer at eBay, and head of product at Shopify. Both firms told the website that they have no record of a Phillip Scott working for them.
Daily Business and other media outlets were told to direct further enquiries to Nicola wood, Letting Cloud’s chief marketing officer, said to have been a product marketing officer at Santander.
However, Santander said it does not have a record of a “Nicola Wood” being in that post. UKTN said it had traced Nicola Wood’s photo to the stock image site Unsplash. Daily Business understands that Mr MacCusker was responding to messages sent to Nicola Wood.
Letting Cloud’s LinkedIn site and its website have been taken down.
Some of the claims do appear to be genuine. Mr MacCusker made it to the regional finals of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in 2020 and 2021. Letting Cloud was also a regional winner of Tech Nation’s Rising Stars 4.0 competition in 2021.
Last month, Tech Nation invited MacCusker to return as a regional judge to help pick the winner of the startup support network’s final Rising Stars competition.
Mr MacCusker told UKTN: “I can’t comment at this moment in time.”