Skift Take

Are IPOs a feasible option for the sharing economy?

Last week we launched the latest report in our Skift Trends Reports service, Venture Investment Trends in Travel 2017.

In our latest report, we explore venture capital trends in the travel industry. We look at the largest investments throughout 2016 and identify trends in the VC scene. Accommodation sharing and transportation were two of the sectors which saw extensive investments, not just in one region or another, but globally.

Below is an excerpt from our Skift Trends Report. Get the full report here to stay ahead of this trend.

Uber and Airbnb: Will They Ever Go Public?

One of the biggest trends of 2016 is the continued dominance of travel giants Uber and Airbnb. Even as many early-stage startups have had trouble moving past the seed round, these two high-profile travel startups have been dominating the funding landscape, accounting for more than $6 billion in startup investment value. Uber has raised three separate rounds of capital this year, including a massive $3.5 billion investment in June and another $1.15 billion in debt financing in July. Meanwhile, Airbnb raised $1 billion of private equity funding in June, followed by another $555 million in debt financing in September.

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Despite massive rounds of private investment in 2016, Uber and Airbnb have both held back on plans for initial public offerings. The decisions reflect a complex dynamic of economic conditions, company momentum and more readily available private capital.

Given the huge sums of money at stake, many industry observers are wondering when these two travel industry giants will go public. The interest stems not only from the two companies’ massive size, but from the PR halo their exits may have on the travel industry startup scene at large. The answer, at least for now, is not yet. There’s a number of reasons why the industry shouldn’t hold it’s breath for an Uber or Airbnb IPO in the short term.

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One is simply a matter of finding the right timing and business momentum. For both of these startups that means making a careful calculation about when the company has the best possible story to share with investors. Airbnb’s recent regulatory challenges with city governments around the world and complications caused by allegations of racism against some site users have complicated the answer to this question. On top of this are the simple day-to-day challenges of preparing for an IPO. “The growth rate says it’s still early,” said Jeff Jordan, partner at Andreessen Horowitz, and Airbnb board member, at the Tech in Asia Tokyo Conference. “You don’t just magically go public. There’s work to be done behind the scenes.”

A second explanation is the relatively poor performance of companies that have gone public in 2016. According to a March 2016 story by Forbes, companies that went public in Q1 2016 only raised $700 million during their IPO, down more than 86% versus the same period last year. The story says the total is the worst quarter for IPOs since Q2 of 2009. In this environment, it’s no wonder Uber and Airbnb don’t mind waiting for more favorable market conditions.

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This is the latest in a series of twice-monthly reports aimed at analyzing the fault lines of disruption in travel. These reports are intended for the busy travel industry decision maker. Tap into the opinions and insights of our seasoned network of staffers and contributors. Over 100 hours of desk research, data collection, and/or analysis goes into each report.

After you subscribe, you will gain access to our entire vault of reports conducted on topics ranging from technology to marketing strategy to deep-dives on key travel brands. Reports are available online in a responsive design format, or you can also buy each report a la carte at a higher price.

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Tags: airbnb, funding, research reports, uber, venture capital

Photo credit: A man leaves the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco. When or if Uber or Airbnb will go public is a constant source of conversation. Eric Risberg / Associated Press

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