Airbnb files for IPO, shows it can actually make a profit


Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky at a company event in 2018.

James Martin

Airbnb filed paperwork for its initial public offering on Monday. The short-term rental company’s filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission shows that, unlike other tech unicorns, it’s been profitable in several quarters over the last couple of years.

During the third quarter of this year, Airbnb made $219 million in net income on revenues of $1.34 billion. Despite the positive outlook, those numbers are down nearly 19% from $1.65 billion in revenue during the same time last year. Airbnb said this is largely due to the hit the company took as the novel coronavirus pandemic has ravaged travel destinations and people have adhered to shelter-in-place mandates.

“Our financial results for the first nine months of 2020 were materially adversely affected,” Airbnb wrote in its filing. “We expect that COVID-19 will continue to materially adversely impact our bookings, revenue, and business operations in future periods.”

Airbnb has gone from a website for couch surfers to having a massive online presence in just over a decade. It lists millions of homes for rent in nearly every country on earth. But it’s been a bumpy road for the company as it’s seen scrutiny from city regulators and battles with local governments from San Francisco to New York to London.

Though it’s worked out deals with many of those regulators, it’s had to scale down its offerings and adjust to new rules, such as requiring hosts to register with cities and limits on how many nights a year people can rent out a home. 

That means Airbnb has needed to rethink its business to stay competitive with hotels and similar sites like VRBO vacation rentals. 

Over the past couple of years, it’s expanded from offering homes for short-term rentals to letting travelers book day trips and restaurant reservations. It’s also partnered with major landlords in California, Florida and New York that allow for Airbnb rentals through their buildings — although some of those deals have fallen through.

The company plans to trade on the Nasdaq with the symbol ABNB.

This is a developing story…

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