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Airbnb announces 'host advisory board,' endowment fund ahead of IPO

Melody Hahm
·West Coast Correspondent
·3-min read
Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky speaks during an event Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, in San Francisco. Airbnb is dispatching inspectors to rate a new category of properties listed on its home-rental service in an effort to reassure travelers they're booking nice places to stay. The Plus program, unveiled Thursday, initially will only cover about 2,000 homes in 13 cities. That's a small fraction of the roughly 4.5 million rentals listed on Airbnb in 81,000 of cities throughout the world. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Airbnb announced on Friday the creation of a special “host advisory board” ahead of its hotly anticipated initial public offering. The council will include 15 VIP Airbnb hosts as well as a “hosts’ endowment fund” of 9.2 million shares of Airbnb that can be disbursed, once its value tops $1 billion, based on the decisions of the committee.

“The endowment will provide support in areas including education, financial resources, and much more. With the Airbnb Host Endowment, we want you to share in our success—not merely at a single moment in time, but for as long as Airbnb exists,” CEO Brian Chesky wrote in a blog post. Chesky emphasized that the advisory board will mirror the diversity of its host community. Eighty five percent live outside of the U.S. and 55% are women.

Just this week, Airbnb’s board approved a 2-for-1 stock split of its private shares for some of its early investors. This lowers the price of its shares for retail investors at the IPO, and doubles the number of shares current venture capitalists and angel investors have.

As cities and states went under lockdown, Airbnb saw its revenue plummet 67% in Q2 and its valuation slashed to $18 billion from $31 billion. The company also laid off 25% of its staff and focused in on its core business of leisure trips, after trying to diversify into experiences, business travel, and media content. The company looks to raise $3 billion in its forthcoming IPO.

Road trips and long-term rentals a boon for business

With four million hosts and seven million listings across 100,000 cities around the world, Airbnb has largely bounced back thanks to the uptick in local travel. In early July, the company logged one million booked nights in a single day, which hadn’t happened since the beginning of March. More travelers are choosing to stay closer to their homes, opting for road trips or longer term home rentals — mostly with 300 miles of home. This has been a boon for Airbnb’s core business.

After confidentially filing to go public in August, Airbnb will make its public debut on the Nasdaq in the coming months. This comes after it decided against a direct listing and shunned an offer to merge with Bill Ackman’s SPAC, Pershing Square Tontine (PSTH). The home rental marketplace filed to go public in August after several months shaken by the coronavirus pandemic.

This focus on stakeholder capitalism, especially as tensions have flared between a corporation and the individuals who have helped build the business, has become more central to conversations as once scrappy startups go public.

Uber (UBER) and Lyft (LYFT) had also set up programs that gave some of the oldest and longest-serving drivers a cash award that they could put toward stock in their IPOs.

Melody Hahm is Yahoo Finance’s West Coast correspondent, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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