Airbnb files for IPO, citing domestic travel, work from 'any' home in bookings rate recovery

The company is still intent on a public shares offering despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Airbnb hopes to launch an Initial Public Offering (IPO) despite the financial disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday, Airbnb's registration document reveals the firm's intent to pursue a public share sale.  

The prospect of an IPO was previously thought to be under threat due to the catastrophic economic impact of COVID-19, which as a global, short-term rental platform, Airbnb has also felt the sting. 

The company's bookings crashed by 72% in April in comparison to the same month last year, as reported by sister site CNET. However, in the June-September period, rebookings rebounded -- and although still down by 20% in comparison to 2019, this may show signs of a slow recovery. 

Airbnb cited a surge in increased domestic travel and the work from home trend as reasons for this increase in bookings. 

"People wanted to get out of their homes and yearned to travel, but they did not want to go far or to be in crowded hotel lobbies," Airbnb's filing reads. "Domestic travel quickly rebounded on Airbnb around the world as millions of guests took trips closer to home. Stays of longer than a few days started increasing as work-from-home became work-from-any-home on Airbnb." 

Airbnb reportedly hopes to raise up to $3 billion in the public stock offering. 

However, the company notes that there are a number of risk factors associated with investment. The COVID-19 pandemic, the firm's net losses -- with an accumulated deficit of $1.4 billion and $2.1 billion as of December 31, 2019, and September 30, 2020, respectively, and concerns surrounding discriminative booking-acceptance practices and safety were also cited. 

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"Any further and continued decline or disruption in the travel and hospitality industries or economic downturn would materially adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition," Airbnb added.

When the coronavirus pandemic began to sink its teeth firmly into the travel industry earlier this year, Airbnb was forced to make tough decisions to stay afloat. 

In May, co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky said the company did not know when normal travel would resume, and when "travel does return, it will look different."

As a result, Airbnb cut roughly 25% of its entire workforce -- 1,900 employees  -- and decided to focus on its core business, suspending investment and projects relating to transport, Airbnb Studios, and Luxe boutique. At the time, Chesky said he was "truly sorry" for the staff cull.

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