On a bumpy road to IPO, Airbnb doubles down on corporate governance

January 17, 2020, 2:38 PM UTC

This article originally ran in Term Sheet, Fortune’s newsletter about deals and dealmakers. Sign up here.

This morning, Airbnb announced that it will serve “all stakeholders,” not just investors. Calling it “the right thing to do for society,” the home-sharing giant wrote in a statement that its stakeholder base will include guests, hosts, communities, shareholders, and employees.

In other words, Airbnb is sending the message that companies should no longer advance only the interests of shareholders.

“These principles inspire behaviors that lead to thinking not just about near-term actions but longer-term horizons,” Airbnb’s statement reads. “They encourage us to think about all our stakeholders and instill accountability. And they summon our creativity.”

Airbnb is a rare type of unicorn: The company has been generally well-liked by the public, run by a CEO who’s done things differently than the uber-aggressive founder types who started companies around the same time. 

But its road to an initial public offering has also been full of hurdles. A company whose business is built on mutual trust between hosts and guests, Airbnb is now facing a trustworthiness crisis. My colleague Aric Jenkins recently reported on the challenges within the company as it tries to implement safety changes and stake its claim as the ultimate one-stop shop travel company.

With Airbnb under even more scrutiny in the public markets following the meltdown of WeWork and the underwhelming performances of Uber, Lyft, and Slack, it’s making changes. Today, it also announced changes to its compensation program by considering factors such as progress on guest safety when calculating employee bonuses.

After the outrage sparked by WeWork’s governance practices, it’s only natural that fellow startups on the road to IPO will place a bigger focus on corporate governance, employee rights, and inclusive cultures. I wouldn’t be surprised if Airbnb’s actions become the new norm.

HOUSEKEEPING: As a reminder, Term Sheet won’t be in your inbox this Monday for the MLK holiday. I’ll still be around, so feel free to tweet at me here. Have a great weekend, and see you next week!

Polina Marinova
Twitter: @polina_marinova
Email: polina.marinova@fortune.com 


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