Airbnb is laying off nearly 2,000 employees, or about 25% of its workforce, due to the impact of the coronavirus on its business.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky sent a memo to all employees today announcing the cuts, which will be across its Americas, European, and Asia-Pacific teams. The company also said its pausing investments that don’t support the “core” business, including in transportation and a studio intended to produce original entertainment related to travel, and reducing funding for a high-end rental service, Luxe.
“We are collectively living through the most harrowing crisis of our lifetime, and as it began to unfold, global travel came to a standstill,” Chesky said in an internal memo. “Airbnb’s business has been hit hard, with revenue this year forecasted to be less than half of what we earned in 2019.”
Airbnb already had raised $2 billion in funding to try to provide additional cash during the current economic slowdown due to the epidemic, but Chesky said that wasn’t enough since Airbnb doesn’t know when travel will return nor what it will look like post-pandemic. Because of this, he said, Airbnb must make “fundamental” changes in its business, including reducing its workforce and narrowing its focus.
The news comes as the coronavirus pandemic brings the travel industry to a near halt, as people across the world shelter in place. Airbnb recently rolled out new cleaning rules for hosts aimed at helping calm travelers fears. But the company, which reportedly lost $322 million in the first nine months of 2019 and had planned an initial public offering later this year, is still struggling to overcome the financial toll caused by the coronavirus.
Employees affected by the cuts will receive two weeks of base pay plus one additional week for every year worked at Airbnb.. The company will also provide 12 months of health insurance through COBRA and will offer international employees health insurance until the end of the year.
Airbnb said it also plans to set up a public-facing website to help laid off employees find new jobs. It is also reassigning “a significant portion” of its recruiting team to help laid-off employees find their next job.
Chesky ended his memo with some parting words to those affected by the layoffs: “To those leaving Airbnb, I am truly sorry. Please know this is not your fault.”
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