At a recent Economic Club of New York luncheon at the New York Stock Exchange, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky indicated that his company could launch an IPO as soon as next year.
“We are halfway through the two-year process of getting ready to go public,” he said.
Despite an ongoing series of legal hurdles—in New York, for instance, the law generally prohibits the leasing of residential spaces for less than a month—Airbnb is valued at over $30 billion, and continues to grow by leaps and bounds. The company has raised over $3 billion from investors since its inception in 2008, including over $1 billion this month alone. All this as city and state governments across the U.S. continue to pass legislation specifically to curtail their operations, and in some cases, are considering banning the service entirely.
In February, Airbnb acquired the Montreal-based Luxury Retreats, a vacation rental company specializing in high-end accommodations.
Staying on the leading edge, however, may require the Airbnb to diversify its services. Right now, it is primarily known as a service through which homeowners lease (or renters sublet) their homes in the short term for a quick profit, and travelers can find lodging at lower rates than at traditional hotels. But Chesky sees his company as branching out into aviation, tourism, and other areas of travel, as with other vacation booking sites.
“I want to sell end-to-end trips where the home will be the minority of what we do,” Chesky explained.
One such example here in New York City is the launch, announced this week, of “Trips,” where Airbnb users can book neighborhood tours led by local residents that “go beneath the surface and help guests discover local treasures that typical guidebooks and tours might miss.”
The first such tours are taking place in Harlem. Incidentally, Chesky noted that, during his latest visit to New York City, he rented—via Airbnb, of course—a Harlem brownstone.
By: Cameron Farnsworth