Skift Take

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said last year he could see his company going public in 2020. What he didn't see was a world turned upside down by a pandemic. If Airbnb ends up trading as a public stock in the coming months, it will be a story for the ages.

Setting the stage for what would be the travel comeback story of the pandemic, Airbnb’s long-awaited initial public offering may finally be happening. The homesharing giant is reportedly planning to file this month with the Securities and Exchange Commission the paperwork to go public later this year.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky had signaled that taking the company public this year was still very much a possibility despite all the challenges created by coronavirus.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the news, noting that Morgan Stanley has been hired to lead the offering, with Goldman Sachs in a secondary role. Airbnb was most recently valued at $18 billion, a significant drop from a high of around $31 billion.

Chesky told the Financial Times in July: “When the market is ready, we’ll be ready.” Skift reported that one factor that might be driving the renewed enthusiasm: Airbnb reported seeing bookings eclipse the 100 million mark for the first time since the onset of Covid-19.

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Airbnb had been approached with a “couple” of opportunities to take itself public through a special purpose acquisition company, a choice that’s been trendy in Silicon Valley circles in recent months.

Speaking on a Reuters Newsmaker webinar in July, Chesky said “we are looking at everything” in terms of going public through a direct listing, an initial public offering, or a special purpose acquisition company.

The pandemic has certainly not been a foe to IPOs. Dealogic reports that U.S. listings have raised $60 billion so far in 2020, the biggest dollar amount for that length of time in recent years.

Airbnb, meanwhile, has been busy shoring up its own finances. Back in the spring as its bookings evaporated with coronavirus taking an early toll, Airbnb announced it secured a $1 billion investment in debt and equity securities from Silver Lake Partners and Sixth Street Partners.

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Tags: airbnb, homesharing, ipo

Photo credit: Airbnb's long-awaited IPO may finally be happening. 334859

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