Airbnb is planning to file for a US float in the coming weeks, putting the short-term rental company on course to go public by the end of this year.
The company expects to file confidentially for an initial public offering as soon as this month, The Telegraph understands. The company could be worth more than $30bn (£23bn) after emerging from the pandemic-induced travel slump stronger than many had expected.
Airbnb, which lets landlords rent out rooms or properties and takes a portion of each booking, was preparing to file paperwork in New York in early 2020. It was forced to freeze plans as the coronavirus spread, resulting in an economic downturn coupled with stay-at-home orders and travel bans that caused bookings to crater. The company laid off a quarter of its workforce and took new funding at a hefty cut to its valuation to shore up cash.
But growing demand for countryside escapes has led bookings to recover in many places, while workers barred from the office have turned to the site to book stays of several weeks outside of cities.
Airbnb had been considering a “direct listing”, in which a company floats on a stock exchange without issuing new shares, but buoyant stock market conditions and its larger debt pile means it is now more likely to raise money. Companies including Spotify and Slack have carried out direct listings in recent years.
Going public this year will present a windfall for Airbnb’s employees, presenting a route for them to cash stock options that begin to expire in November, becoming worthless. Uncertainty caused by the US election or a drop in market conditions could still force it to delay plans, however.
The company is one of the highest-valued privately-held US tech companies, and staff had been pushing for it to list on the stock market. Data company Palantir and takeaway app DoorDash are among others working on a float. Airbnb’s plans to file to go public were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.