One of the most anticipated public listings of 2020 is in danger of being derailed by the spread of coronavirus.
Airbnb, operator of the largest home-sharing service, has been working toward a stock market debut this year and was looking to start the process around March or April, people with knowledge of the matter said. That kickoff could get pushed back, some of them said. And now, with consumers and businesses canceling travel plans around the globe, Airbnb’s plan is at risk of slipping into 2021. “You want to come in with your best foot forward in a public listing – and this virus is hitting Airbnb hard,” said David Hsu, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School.
The company has to weigh the risks of entering the public markets after an unprofitable year, when investors have already been burned by the poor performance of other technology public offerings —and when the travel sector is under so much pressure, Hsu said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see this particular listing delayed,” he added. Founded in 2008, Airbnb ushered in a new era of travel by convincing millions of people to open up their homes to strangers. The $31 billion start-up runs a global platform connecting those who are willing to rent their homes to guests looking for a cheap place to stay.