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Did Airbnb Hint at a 2018 IPO

Benjamin Rains

Airbnb, the online personal housing rental company, could be the next big technology startup to go public. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky spoke on a number of different issues at a New York Economic Club luncheon on Monday, including the possibility of an IPO.

Chesky said that the travel rental startup is about halfway through its roughly two-year process towards an initial public offering. But Airbnb’s CEO made similar comments two years ago.

"We are working on making sure the company is ready to go public, and I've said it was a two-year project,” Chesky said at the luncheon. “We're probably about halfway through that project, as far as just being ready to go public. But at that point, our investors are very patient. None of them are anxiously waiting for us to go public."

Airbnb started in 2008 as a travel app and website that connected people with someone renting their own home, apartment, or room, mostly for travel purposes. In 2014, Airbnb announced it was rebranding from a hotel services company to a lifestyle brand.

Today, Airbnb has over 3 million rentals listed across nearly 65,000 cities in 191 countries. The company’s total guest list is over 150 million people. Bloomberg reported that Airbnb revenue grew by over 80% in 2016. The company posted its first profitable period in the second half of 2016.

Airbnb’s last valuation was $30 billion. The big valuation makes the company the second largest startup in the U.S. behind only Uber. Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. HLT has a market cap of $23 billion.

Like Uber, investorsare still all-in on Airbnb. The company announced last week it received over $1 billion in new funding. According to sources close to the company, Airbnb projects it will earn as much as $3.5 billion a year by 2020, which would be a 3,400% increase from 2016.

But Airbnb has faced several notable challenges over the last few years, which include New York State and San Francisco slapping new regulations on the company.

Today, Airbnb released a new study conducted by NERA Economic Consulting that found it helps create 730,000 jobs worldwide. The number is expected to reach 1.3 million in 2017.

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