Skift Take

Silver Lake and Sixth Street likely got a very attractive deal in exchange for their investment.

Faced with a plummeting of its business, outrage from many hosts, and an ever-approaching deadline to go public in 2020, Airbnb announced it secured a $1 billion investment in debt and equity securities from Silver Lake Partners and Sixth Street Partners.

Update: The Wall Street Journal reported that it will pay its new investors more than 10 percent interest on their financing, and its valuation has dropped to $18 billion, from $31 billion at its previous fundraise. Silver Lake and Sixth Street received warrants that they can convert into shares at that $18 billion valuation.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Aibnb’s fundraising isn’t finished, and that it is in talks to secure an additional $1 billion in debt.]

The investment brings Airbnb’s total funding to around $5.4 billion. In a recent meeting with employees before Monday’s investment announcement, co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky informed them that the company had lowered its valuation to $26 billion from the previous $31 billion.

In its announcement, Airbnb didn’t disclose its new valuation, or how the funding infusion impacts its desire to go public in 2020, which was geared to let employees  begin to cash out their soon-to-expire stock options.

With Airbnb under duress — like much of the travel and hospitality industry because of the coronavirus pandemic but with more resources than most — the company said the funding will go toward investing in its hosts, including for stays and experiences, and will support other stakeholders.

Silver Lake and Sixth Street Partners, as part of their $1 billion investment, will allocate $5 million toward the newly established Superhost Relief Fund, bringing that fund’s total to $15 million. The fund is designed to help superhosts pay their mortgages and otherwise stay in business.

The $15 million relief fund for superhosts is in addition to a $150 million relief fund for hosts to help cover the frenzy of coronavirus-induced cancellations. Airbnb invoked hosts’ ire, and pleased guests, in unilaterally deciding to give guests full refunds for certain cancellations, overriding hosts’ cancellation policies.

Airbnb said Monday “we will invest in our hosts and bring more of them into our community.” In a video meeting with thousands of host last week, Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky apologized to hosts for the thrust of its cancellation policy during the coronavirus crisis, and conceded that the company had grown removed from hosts’ concerns.

Airbnb had previously announced, and reinforced in its $1 billion funding announcement, that it will focus on long-term stays to meet changing guest behavior during the coronavirus crisis.

A veteran investor told Skift that private equity firm Silver Lake Partners is a savvy investor. “They know the space and probably got a very good deal,” said the investor, who doesn’t have a stake in Airbnb.

“While the current environment is clearly a difficult one for the hospitality industry, the desire to travel and have authentic experiences is fundamental and enduring,” said Silver Lake co-CEO and managing partner Egon Durban in the funding statement. “Airbnb’s diverse, global, and resilient business model is particularly well suited to prosper as the world inevitably recovers and we all get back out to experience it.”

A source close to Airbnb told Skift March 21 that the company was trying to raise additional funding to cope with the coronavirus crisis, and that some 20 potential investors were kicking the tires.

Part of Airbnb’s pitch is that when there is a global recovery from coronavirus travelers would be more likely to seek stays at short-term rentals in less congested areas where they can better control the environment and travel with people they know instead of mixing with hotel guests.

Even before Monday’s announcement and following Airbnb’s move last week to provide $250 million to offset hosts’ cancellation losses, and another $10 million to assist superhosts pay their mortgages, one rival asked Skift, “where does Airbnb get all of this unlimited money?”

Note: This story has been updated to include the terms of Airbnb’s financing deal, and that it is in talks to secure an additional $1 billion in debt.


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Tags: airbnb, funding, private equity, venture capital

Photo credit: Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky speaks onstage during "Introducing Trips" Reveal at Airbnb Open LA on November 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. Mike Windle / Getty Images for Airbnb

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