Airbnb has reignited plans to go public, despite ongoing sharemarket volatility and uncertainty surrounding the short-term rental market onset by the coronavirus pandemic.
In an email to employees on Thursday, Airbnb chief executive Brian Chesky said the company’s gross bookings had rebounded in recent weeks following a sharp decline, allowing the company to reconsider floating.
“We’re not committing to going public this year, but we’re not ruling it out, either,” Chesky said.
“When the market is ready, we will be ready.”
Airbnb, one of the largest and most prominent startups to emerge from Silicon Valley in the past decade, is understood to have suffered an 85 per cent downturn in global business over recent months, slashing an estimated US$30 billion off its value.
The San Francisco-based company had planned to file in March to go public, but set aside those plans when the pandemic halted travel and tourism around the world.
Airbnb enacted a hiring freeze in April, cutting its $800 million marketing budget and pay to its top executives.
The home-sharing platform also raised $US1 billion (A$1.63 billion) in new funding in a similar vein to other technology start-ups take extra measures to stockpile cash during the outbreak.
Following this, Airbnb laid off a quarter of its staff, or about 1,900 employees, following a wave of similar job cuts to contract hires across Silicon Valley.
Airbnb has spent the past several years broadening its offerings in advance of an expected IPO.
In 2017, it acquired Luxury Retreats to boost its high-end offerings listing boutique hotels and in turn moving towards high-quality property offerings.
In its bid to corner the hotel market, Airbnb invested US$100 million in the hotel chain Oyo and bought the hotel-booking site HotelTonight for over US$400 million.
The company has also snapped up Urbandoor, a platform that offers extended stays to corporate clients.
Chesky noted that at the beginning of June, Airbnb had seen an uptick in the volume of bookings, matching the same period in 2019.
There was an increase in longer stays, Chesky said, perhaps reflective of people wanting to work from a different location.
The company has also reshuffled key positions in its executive team in an attempt to reboot its relationships with hosts.
Airbnb also announced that Catherine Powell, the company’s head of experiences, would take a new role as global head of hosting as Greg Greeley, president of the homes division, left the company.
Apple veteran Hiroki Asai will now become head of marketing after a nearly two decades with the tech giant where he was vice president of global marketing communications until 2016.
Lead image: Airbnb chief executive Brian Chesky.