Airbnb, the home rental company, on Wednesday filed to go public, a milestone for a Silicon Valley pioneer that helped usher in the “sharing economy.”
The company, which launched in 2008, played a key role in popularizing peer-to-peer rentals, in which people would offer up their homes, cars or services to others using tech platforms. Uber and Lyft, other marquee players in the sharing economy, went public last year.
In a blog post, Airbnb said the amount and price range of shares it is offering “have not yet been determined.” The company declined to comment beyond its initial announcement.
The filing comes amid a brutal year for the travel industry in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Airbnb, which was privately valued at $31 billion at one point, was particularly battered as the world’s economies shut down and people canceled trips to shelter in place.
In May, the company said it was laying off 1,900 of its employees — a quarter of the company — one of the largest mass layoffs for a Silicon Valley company since the pandemic began. At the time, CEO Brian Chesky told employees that revenue this year would be less than half of what it earned in 2019, which was reportedly $4.8 billion.
But the company’s business appears to be on the mend as people begin to travel again, seeking private countryside rentals where they can avoid big groups of people. Last month, Airbnb said hosts in rural areas across the US earned over $200 million in June of this year, up more than 25% from the same period in 2019.
Founded by Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia, the company quickly became a darling of the Silicon Valley startup scene. Airbnb first began to gain traction with consumers during the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, where people flocked to see the historic nomination of then-candidate Barack Obama but could not find hotel rooms. The company eventually joined the elite club of startups known as unicorns, valued at $1 billion or above.
Like many of its peers in the sharing economy, Airbnb drew scrutiny for battling with regulators and courting safety controversies. Last year the company said it would verify all of its listings and make other safety improvements following a shooting at a Halloween party at a California rental that left five people dead.