Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Airbnb Valuation Tops $100 Billion After 115% Jump at Open

AirBnb Inc. signage is displayed on an smartphone in an arranged photograph taken in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Friday, April 17, 2020. Home-sharing leader Airbnb Inc. lined up $1 billion in debt boosting a financial cushion it can use to grow and pay bills as the global coronavirus pandemic crushes demand for travel and diminishes the prospect of an initial public offering. Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg

Airbnb Inc. shares more than doubled in their trading debut, propelling the home-rental company to a $100 billion-plus valuation and one of the biggest first-day pops on record.

The shares opened Thursday at $146 apiece, above the $68 initial public offering price. The listing comes 10 months after the Covid-19 pandemic upended travel and 24 hours after DoorDash Inc. soared in its public debut.

Airbnb’s shares surged after the company posted its most profitable quarter ever, overshadowing the competitive threats from traditional travel companies with tourism poised to rebound as covid vaccines are rolled out. Yet the rallies in both Airbnb and DoorDash also remind some market veterans of the dot-com era. About 80% of companies going public in this record year for IPOs have yet to earn money, while four of the most popular stocks on the Robinhood app started trading publicly in 2020.

Airbnb priced its initial public offering well above a marketed range Wednesday, to raise about $3.5 billion. At the IPO price, its fully diluted valuation was $47 billion. At $146 per share, that number is more than $100 billion.

“I don’t know what else to say,” Airbnb Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky said in an earlier Bloomberg Television interview, when indications showed the stock could open at more than $139 per share. “I’m very humbled by it.”

DoorDash’s debut surge — elevating its fully diluted value to about $71 billion — played a role in Airbnb’s discussion about pricing its IPO above the marketed range, according to people familiar with the matter. An Airbnb representative declined to comment on that point.

For More: DoorDash Pop Stokes Renewed Debate on IPO Pricing to Perfection

To hang on to its lofty valuation, Airbnb will need to grapple with a litany of threats, as outlined in its IPO prospectus, ranging from a surge in party houses that carry liability risks to an increase in professionally run properties that lack the charm that made Airbnb rentals famous.

Airbnb and DoorDash propelled IPO volume to all-time high for December, surpassing the $8.3 billion mark set for the month in both 2001 and 2003, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

There’s more to come. Other consumer-facing web-based companies set to go public this month include video-game company Roblox Corp., installment loans provider Affirm Holdings Inc. and ContextLogic Inc., the parent of online discount retailer Wish Inc. Those listings will add to what is already a record year for IPOs, with more than $166 billion raised on U.S. exchanges, including Airbnb and DoorDash, the data show.

Airbnb’s offering was led by Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Its shares trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol ABNB.

Pandemic Crush

San Francisco-based Airbnb has seen a bounce back in domestic bookings since the early days of the pandemic crushed demand.

“No year in our history has been as wild and crazy and defining as this year,” Chesky said in an earlier interview, from the apartment on Rausch Street in San Francisco where the idea for Airbnb was born in 2007.

For More: $3.1 Billion IPO Hinges on Rentals That Like Home

In the past 13 years, Airbnb has totally upended the travel market, given people an opportunity for income and created a whole new market for services related to real estate and hosts. Today, Airbnb is one of the biggest travel companies in the world.

The company’s IPO plans were put on hold in March as the pandemic ground global travel to a halt. By April, room bookings and experiences had plunged 72%. Airbnb rolled out a blanket refund policy and doled out more than $1 billion in cancellation fees.

By June, though, things were starting to look up. City dwellers who were sick of being stuck inside their homes got in their cars and drove to mountain towns and rural communities, often setting up for weeks or months at a time as work-from-home policies allowed.

Domestic Boost

International travel was down, but demand for domestic, short-distance trips and stays outside of the top 20 cities proved resilient.

In the third quarter, Airbnb’s revenue declined only 18%, compared to the near 60% decline for Expedia Group Inc. and Marriott International Inc. The three-month period was also Airbnb’s most profitable ever, based on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

For the first nine months of 2020, Airbnb had a net loss of $697 million on revenue of $2.5 billion, compared with a net loss of $323 million on revenue of $3.7 billion for the same period last year, according to its filings.

Airbnb survived the depths of the crisis by cutting marketing expenses and firing about a quarter of its staff in the spring.

“It’s been an unrelenting year,” Chesky said. “I feel like I’m 39 going on 59 because it feels like we had to make a couple of decade decisions over the last eight months.”


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