Airbnb books its own listing despite falling revenue

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Accommodation platform Airbnb is joining the surge of technology companies defying turbulent markets to list on the US stock exchange, despite taking a $US1 billion revenue hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

Airbnb's IPO, which was filed on Monday, listed at raising $US1 billion ($1.4 billion) but this is unlikely to be the final figure with estimates the travel giant Airbnb could raise as much as $US3 billion for a valuation of up to $US30 billion when it lists on the Nasdaq.

The short-term accommodation and experience booking platform was expected to go public earlier this year but revenue dived when the coronavirus pandemic hit and its customers cancelled their bookings and demanded refunds.

Travel giant Airbnb has filed an S-1 to list on the US Nasdaq. Credit:Josh Robenstone

In the nine months ended September 30, 2020, gross booking value fell 39 per cent to $US18 billion and revenue fell 32 per cent to $2.5 billion.

Airbnb recorded a net loss of $US696,865 for the nine months to September 30, 2020, more than double its loss of $US322,801 for the same period the year before.

"COVID-19 has materially adversely affected our recent operating and financial results and is continuing to materially adversely impact our long-term operating and financial results," Airbnb said in the filing. "However, we believe that as the world recovers from this pandemic, Airbnb will be a vital source of economic empowerment for millions of people."

Airbnb joins a number of US technology companies going public this year, including DoorDash, Palantir, Asana, Snowflake and BigCommerce.

The company was founded in 2008 by Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nate Blecharczyk who rented out an airbed in a spare bedroom in San Francisco and the trio still own 43.7 per cent of the company.

It has been a tough year for Airbnb which laid off 1900 staff when the pandemic hit and was forced to fundraise $US2 billion in debt and equity securities in April.

"We have incurred net losses in each year since inception, and we may not be able to achieve profitability," Airbnb said in its filing.

Alexandra Ormerod, co-founder of Australian high-end property rental business Luxico, which is one of six Airbnb partners worldwide, said it would be interesting to see how Airbnb's IPO went given its timing.

"I suspect it will be a successful IPO, it is a very strong brand," she said.

"We were hit pretty hard early on in March, April and May and wrote off about 70 per cent of our revenue but found an enormous amount of goodwill from our response, as soon as lockdown lifted people were rebooking straight away," she said.

Luxico recorded revenue of about $10 million last year with about 15 per cent of its bookings coming through Airbnb.

Airbnb declined to comment but Susan Wheeldon, country manager for Airbnb in Australia, said in an interview earlier this year with The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that Airbnb's listing would be a "blockbuster IPO" but would not change the way the company operated.

"We are operating as if we are public in terms of our requirements and standards so the view is that it's a technical milestone for us and it doesn't hold us back from continuing our growth and progress," she said.

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