If Airbnb chooses to go the route of a direct listing, it could help shield the company from some of the same scrutiny faced by its peers, as well as limit the costs associated with an IPO. That’s the route messaging company Slack took, although its stock is also down significantly since starting trading this summer.
Investors are casting a wary eye on big-spending tech companies, who frequently tout the need to reinvest over delivering a profit to shareholders. That’s fine when a company is privately held, but the recently public companies are finding out that being publicly traded can bring additional — sometimes unwelcome — scrutiny.
It’s unclear whether Airbnb is currently profitable. CNBC and Bloomberg News have reported that Airbnb earned a small profit in 2017. The company said in September that its second-quarter revenue was “substantially more than $1 billion,” the second such quarter in its history.
Airbnb declined to comment. Airbnb previously announced it would go public in 2020, without providing any detail.
Since it was founded in 2008, San Francisco-based Airbnb has grown into a home-sharing platform with more than 7 million rental listings across nearly 200 countries, according to the company.
Airbnb has also attracted significant criticism from governments, housing advocates and the hospitality industry, who say the company facilitates illegal short-term renting and puts additional housing pressure on cities already struggling with the issue.
No matter what course the company takes, Baird senior research analyst Michael Bellisario said, the hotel industry will be watching closely.
“The competitive threats to the hotel industry have been significant this cycle,” he said, adding that alternative accommodations like those offered by Airbnb have had a large impact on the industry.