Love it or hate it, you can hardly blame Airbnb for a deflated valuation, although not all of the plunge is coronavirus-related. The pain that is infecting travel and other companies at this moment is boundless.
Airbnb is in an existential struggle, as are many of its travel industry peers while nightmarish news is emerging in rapid-fire succession.
The year 2020, absent an unforeseen coronavirus pandemic, was supposed to be a banner one for Airbnb with a potential stock market flotation. But the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Airbnb’s valuation has plummeted from $31 billion at its fundraising a couple of years ago to $18 billion at its $1 billion financing disclosed Monday.
In connection with that financing from Silver Lake and Sixth Street Partners, according to the Journal, Airbnb has to pay 10 percent interest plus the Libor rate. And Bloomberg reported that Airbnb is in talks to tack on an additional $1 billion in debt financing.
Then word came Wednesday from The Information that Airbnb’s revenue is projected to fall some 54 percent to around $2.2 billion this year. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky had already told employees that he expects to chop $800 million from the company’s marketing spend in 2020.
That shouldn’t be exceedingly difficult because many brands have gone dark in advertising in 2020 while the coronavirus outbreak rages. Airbnb had been criticized for turning 2019 into a losing year because of rising marketing expenses.
Airbnb’s revenue shortfall is hardly shocking. Rival Booking Holdings disclosed Wednesday that its room night reservations in the past few days are down 85 percent compared with a year ago.
While Airbnb’s valuation plummeted, Booking Holdings said it will likely take significant impairment charges related to its Kayak and OpenTable units for the first quarter.
There’s a lot of pain going around.
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Photo credit: Joe Gebbia, Airbnb co-Founder, gives a speech after signing a nine-year, five-Games partnership with the International Olympic Committee, at Japan House, London. The games were subsequently postponed. Matt Alexander / Airbnb