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Airbnb to recertify all listings ahead of planned IPO

Finance and Securities, Other, Real Estate Developments

Airbnb announced this week that the firm will check all of its listings to make sure that photos, addresses, and other information are accurate by the end of next year. The move is seen as a response to the death of five people at an Airbnb “party house” on October 31, as well as in anticipation of the firm’s initial public offering. [1]

Unlike WeWork, another major real estate startup, Airbnb has been profitable for years and also has a sizeable pile of cash (more than $3 billion) in case of trouble. Airbnb believes public markets will be willing to invest in a more stable and proven venture—notwithstanding the high-profile problems of other companies operating in the same sector. At bottom, Airbnb simply has a much less risky business model than WeWork’s, which depended on long-term leases. [2]

However, the FT reports that Airbnb is leaning toward a direct listing when the company goes public, cutting out investment bank underwriters from the process and also limiting secondary market activity that allows employees that allows employees to get loans against their stock options.

With more than two million nightly users, Airbnb has transformed the hotel and tourism industries since it was founded in 2008. It has also reshaped real estate markets in popular tourist cities like Athens and Lisbon, where property prices have exploded. Critics of the firm’s business model argue the company has eaten into residential housing stock and made such cities unaffordable for locals, while defenders of Airbnb point to the infusion of tourist dollars from visitors looking to stay in more homely accommodations (as opposed to hotel rooms). Regardless of Airbnb’s long-term impact on urban landscapes, the company’s runaway success over the last decade suggests its $42 billion IPO should be a big win for one of the biggest stories in real estate since the 2008 crash.

[1] Yaffe-Bellany, D. ( Airbnb to Verify All Listings, C.E.O. Chesky Says from NY Times Accessed November 8 2019

[2] Kruppa, M. (November 2019) Investors seek to cash in on Airbnb from FT Accessed November 8 2019

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