Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Airbnb may go public during its most uncertain period in history


Airbnb plans to file for an IPO in August, according to a Wall Street Journal report. That means we could see a listing sometime this year, though the exact timeline will depend on the Security and Exchange Commission’s review process and how the market looks. Per the Journal, the company has tapped Morgan Stanley to lead the offering, with Goldman Sachs “playing a key role.”

The news comes at a time when Airbnb faces high costs and extra hurdles due to COVID-19. The home-sharing giant lost hundreds of millions after the pandemic ground travel to a halt and caused bookings to tank in cities around the world. The company had to issue millions in refunds to hosts whose guests canceled their stays.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Airbnb was valued at $18 billion back in April — a significant drop from the $31 billion price tag it garnered during its last fundraising round in 2017. The company raised $1 billion in funding during its April round, with a steep price tag including an interest rate of 10 percent and (reportedly) a verbal commitment to reduce fixed costs and strengthen management. (Still, the extra funds could help the company weather the pandemic.) In May, the company laid off a quarter of its employees and pumped the brakes on plans to expand into TV and transportation.

Even before COVID-19 slammed the US, things weren’t looking great. Airbnb racked up a $322 million loss in the first nine months of 2019.

Airbnb has rebounded somewhat, however: bookings have begun to increase year over year.

Bookings are trending more toward locations within 200 miles of the customers’ homes, indicating that customers have been shifting vacations to domestic stays (unsurprising, given travel restrictions worldwide) and preferring car travel over flights.

Airbnb declined to comment for this story.



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