24 May 2019
Airbnb is seen ripe for an IPO but there is no clarity as to when the company may take the plunge. Photo: Reuters
Airbnb is seen ripe for an IPO but there is no clarity as to when the company may take the plunge. Photo: Reuters

Airbnb will be ‘ready to IPO next year’ but might not: CEO

Airbnb, the decade-old accommodation startup, appears to be more open now to the possibility of an initial public offering in the near future although it remains non-committal on the matter.

Speaking at a media and tech summit in California this week, Airbnb’s co-founder and CEO teased the prospect of a 2019 IPO but also indicated that the company might opt to remain private. 

“We will be ready to IPO next year, but I don’t know if we will,” Brian Chesky said at Recode’s Code Conference.

Chesky, who previously said Airbnb isn’t going to do an IPO anytime soon, said he has no issues with going public, but added that a deal will be done only when it ensures major benefit to the company.

Valued at US$31 billion in a funding round in March last year, Airbnb recorded US$2.6 billion in revenue and made US$93 million in profit in 2017, with bookings growing around 150 percent, according to a Bloomberg report.

As of March 2018, Airbnb had 150 million users and 640,000 hosts in over 191 countries.

According to tech news website TechCrunch, an Airbnb host earns US$7,350 in average from renting space on the platform per year, and the platform takes a 3 percent cut.

However, the home-sharing online platform has been increasingly under fire from city authorities across the globe, like New York and Paris, to limit residential rentals through it.

At the conference, Chesky shared his vision of Airbnb to be a global travel community that includes things like Experiences, a feature offering guests various excursions put together by local hosts, content and other lines of business outside of renting homes.

“People who misunderstand Airbnb, they tend to just see a bunch of real estate,” he said. “I think the key that makes Airbnb is the fact that we’re a community, not just a series of commodities.”

“We want to focus on the things that are most differentiated, the things that are most oriented around community, whether that’s going into Experiences or doubling down on China,” he said.

Chesky revealed that Experiences, which offers users activities hosted by locals, is now doing a million and a half bookings on an annualized basis. It is said to be growing much faster compared to what was seen with home rentals in the past.

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