Airbnb’s IPO: 6 key things to know

December 9, 2020, 9:00 PM UTC
Updated December 10, 2020, 10:31 PM UTC

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Airbnb’s long-awaited debut as a publicly traded company is expected this week, following a tumultuous year in which its home rental service’s business was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The company, led by CEO and cofounder Brian Chesky, confidentially filed for its IPO in August, just three months after cutting 2,000 employees as a result of a pandemic-related slowdown in rentals. But while recent documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission show just how much Airbnb’s business was impacted, it also showed some recovery. 

Here are some key things to know about Airbnb’s IPO.

When is Airbnb’s IPO?

Airbnb’s IPO took place on Dec. 9, and its shares began trading on Dec. 10. The company had initially announced its plans to go public in September, following a number of big debuts by tech companies like Zoom, Pinterest, Uber, Lyft. 

What are the IPO shares priced at?

Airbnb sold 50 million shares on Wednesday at a reported price of $68 each, valuing the company at $47 billion. That’s up from the price range it had previously set of $56 to $60, which would’ve valued the company at up to $42 billion. Last week, based on strong investor appetite, the company raised the initial price range of $44 to $50.

On its first day of trading Thursday, Airbnb’s stock debuted on the Nasdaq at $148 per share and then jumped to $160—representing a 135% increase from its IPO. That gives the company a valuation of $100 billion.

How did Airbnb fare during the pandemic?

The pandemic created a major slowdown in Airbnb’s business, but the company seems to have survived the worst of it. 

During the height of the pandemic, in the second quarter, a large number of cancellations and slow bookings created a massive loss in revenue. Airbnb’s $334.78 million in revenue was down 72% year over year. During the same quarter, the company’s losses widened to $575.6 million, up from a loss of $297.4 million during the same period the year prior. 

Airbnb initially responded to the pandemic by cutting costs. It cut 25% of its workforce, reduced marketing expenses, cut 2020 bonuses, and reduced executive salaries for six months.

By May, the company said it had started to see customers return for local getaways and for working remotely. As a result, the company reported a $219.3 million third-quarter profit, down from $266.7 million it made during the same period in 2019.

What was Airbnb’s business like before COVID?

Prior to the pandemic, Airbnb’s revenue was rapidly growing, but so were its losses. Its revenue rose from $2.6 billion in 2017, to $3.7 billion in 2018, and $4.8 billion in 2019.

But losses widened from $70 million in 2017 to $674.3 million in 2019. 

The company had 54 million active customers in 2019 and 247 million guest arrivals. It also said that 84% of its revenue came from customers who had rented on its service within the past year, up from 82% the previous year— showing that the service is getting better at retaining customers.

What challenges are ahead?

Airbnb’s biggest challenge is the coronavirus, which continues to keep people at home. Some hosts and prospective hosts are also opting to not list their accommodations on the service.

Meanwhile, city governments frequently tweak their restrictions on rentals that impact whether the company can host guests there.

Beyond COVID-19, the company has also struggled with safety issues, including guests hosting unauthorized parties that have become violent. After two shootings at parties in California left people dead and injured, the company added new rules in an effort to improve safety.

What is Airbnb’s ticker?

Airbnb will trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol ABNB.


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