Airbnb confidentially files to go public


Airbnb has filed paperwork to go public.

Angela Lang/CNET

Airbnb, the home rental company, on Wednesday said it filed to go public, a milestone for a tech pioneer that helped usher in a new generation of startups in Silicon Valley.

The company, launched in 2008, played a key role in popularizing the so-called sharing economy, in which people would list their homes, cars or services for use, via tech platforms. Uber and Lyft, other marquee players born out of that model, went public last year. 

In a blog post, Airbnb said the amount and price range of its shares “have not yet been determined.” The company declined to comment beyond its initial announcement. 

The filing comes amid a brutal year for the travel industry in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Airbnb, which was privately valued at $31 billion at one point, was particularly battered as the world’s economies shut down and people canceled trips and began sheltering in place. 

In May, the company said it was laying off 1,900 of its employees — a quarter of the company — one of the largest mass layoffs for a Silicon Valley company since the pandemic began. At the time, CEO Brian Chesky told employees that revenue this year would be less than half of what the company earned in 2019, which was reportedly $4.8 billion.

But the company’s business appears to be on the mend as people begin to travel again, seeking private countryside rentals where they can avoid big groups of people. Last month, Airbnb said hosts in rural areas across the US earned over $200 million in June of this year, up more than 25% from the same period in 2019. 

Founded by Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia, the company quickly became a darling of the Silicon Valley startup scene. Airbnb first began to gain traction with consumers during the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, where people flocked to see the historic nomination of then-candidate Barack Obama but couldn’t find hotel rooms. The company eventually joined the elite club of startups known as unicorns, valued at $1 billion or above.

Like many of its peers in the sharing economy, Airbnb drew scrutiny for battling with regulators and courting safety controversies. Last year the company said it would verify all its listings and make other safety improvements, following a shooting during a Halloween party at a California rental, which left five people dead.

CNET’s Dara Kerr contributed to this report.

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