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With IPO Looming, Airbnb Chalks Up A Multimillion-Dollar Loss

Airbnb Vice President of Trips Joe Zadeh

Short-term rental site Airbnb may face a bumpy road going public after a reported loss of more than $300M last year.

Though it made a $200M profit in 2018, Airbnb had a $322M net loss in the first nine months of last year, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources. 

Costs are on the rise, per the publication, and there is growing anxiety within Airbnb’s ranks about the slide in profitability. The board has been turning up the heat on executives to explain why revenue has fallen below expenses. While the company was valued at $31B in 2017, its most recent internal valuation was much lower, per the WSJ. 

The pressure is on Airbnb in light of its plans to go public at some point this year. Amid an environment of widespread skepticism around tech firms with losses, Airbnb's solid profit was set to be its selling point.

Uber’s highly anticipated IPO last year was underwhelming, as was Lyft’s. Meanwhile, WeWork is still mopping up the mess from its failed attempt to go public. The coworking giant canned its IPO in September, and has been trying to right the ship in the months since. In November the company announced a five-year strategic plan, and this month named CRE veteran Sandeep Mathrani as its new CEO.

The exact timing of Airbnb’s IPO is not clear, though it may be delayed by the coronavirus crisis, as China is such an important market for the company. 

While investors are said to be increasingly distrustful of companies that have been dealing with losses, few technology companies that have gone public in recent years were profitable, University of Florida finance professor Jay Ritter told the WSJ.

"[Airbnb has] huge global market share, the brand name … and there’s no question they will be able to achieve profitability,” he said.