Investors give a huge $100m vote of confidence in Airbnb flotation

IN THE biggest US listing of 2020, Airbnb’s first day of public trading has secured a valuation of more than $100bn, with more than $3.5bn raised.

It’s been a surprisingly good year for tech flotations on US exchanges — reportedly better than any since 2014. Airbnb’s share price in opening trade more than doubled, rising from $68 ahead of the listing to close the day at $163.80. It has since fallen slightly to $144.71 at the time of writing.

The firm hopes the money raised will help it to survive the on-going pandemic and build the business ready for a post-pandemic surge. Travel restrictions, money worries and public health fears have devastated the travel, hospitality and holiday markets.

The listing is a notable turnaround from the scenario earlier this year, when bookings crashed, Airbnb staff numbers were cut by 25 percent, and the firm raised $2bn in emergency funding. Things picked up with passing months, and profits were recorded for July, August and September.

With domestic and international travel still restricted in many countries, the firm remains watchful and cautious about the long-term future.

Airbnb was founded in San Francisco in 2008 by fellow former students — and housemates — Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia. The trio, now all billionaires, created a simple website offering short-term bed and breakfast accommodation for those struggling to find hotel rooms.

The Airbnb website now boasts more than four million international property listings, and in 2019 some 54 million people used the service.