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Airbnb Says It Intends to Go Public in 2020

Patrick Whyte, Skift
Airbnb Says It Intends to Go Public in 2020

Airbnb said on Thursday that it intends to go public in 2020, ending much speculation about the timing of one of the most-anticipated IPOs in travel.

The news came after Airbnb said Wednesday it generated revenue of more than $1 billion in the second quarter of its 2019 financial year — the second time in its history it has passed the figure.

The company is preparing to launch a new multi-media advertising campaign featuring a number of its hosts across the United States.

Essentially, Airbnb is harking back to its roots as a homesharing platform, something it seems keen to do especially in the face of mounting criticism about its impact on cities across the world.

In effect Airbnb has two faces: there’s the side it shows to its hosts and guests about building communities, then there’s the side it shows to investors with the need for scale and revenue growth, where it competes with the other big online travel agencies.

As a comparison, Expedia Group generated made $3.2 billion in revenue during its second quarter with its Vrbo unit, which also includes the HomeAway brand, accounting for $347 million.

Booking Holdings does not break down its performance in quite the same way but it made $3.9 billion in revenue during the same period and a recent Skift analysis showed how the company’s growth in alternative accommodations was changing the shape of the business.

Interestingly, in the first quarter of 2019, Airbnb actually beat Expedia in terms of booked room nights, although it is still some distance behind booking. The Airbnb numbers were not publicly available and came from a Wall Street Journal report.

Airbnb’s Growth

Over the last few years the company has made sporadic announcements about its financial performance – with news also emerging from leaked financial information.

In the third quarter of 2018, Airbnb said it had “recognized substantially more than $1 billion in revenue” 

Bloomberg previously reported that Airbnb made $93 million in profit on $2.6 billion in revenue during 2017, citing people familiar with the matter, and a year later said it had been profitable in 2018.

Positive Spin

As well as giving a small update on its revenue performance and new campaign, Airbnb used its latest community update to share some other details.

It said that as of as of September 15, hosts had earned more than $80 billion sharing their homes and spaces on the platform and that up to June 1, it had collected over $1.6 billion in transient occupancy taxes (TOT).

These statistics are key to Airbnb’s message: that it enables people to make money from their property and that this also benefits cities and communities.

“We have committed to treating every city personally and working with local leaders on sensible rules for home sharing. We have partnered with over 500 local governments and organizations around the world to promote tourism, collect and remit taxes, and enable home sharing,” Airbnb said.

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