Airbnb, pre-IPO

The controversial unicorn appears to be prepping to go public, but the NYC crackdown on the company is only getting more intense

Jul.July 01, 2019 10:00 AM

Airbnb co-founders, from left: Chief Product Officer Joe Gebbia, Chief Strategy Officer Nathan
Blecharczyk and CEO Brian Chesky

Airbnb has been an almost perfect embodiment of Silicon Valley’s “move fast and break things” culture since it burst onto the scene in 2008.

The company — which claims to have more than 6 million listings globally (a number it says is more rooms than the six largest hotel groups combined) — became very popular very fast with the public. But it’s also faced aggressive opposition from the city government and the hotel industry since the moment it landed in New York. And that ire has not let up.

Last year, city officials issued 718 violations to 139 single- and two-family homes as part of its crackdown on Airbnb. It also raided the Far West Side’s swanky Atelier condominium, doling out roughly two dozen violations to owners accused of illegally renting out apartments through the home-sharing site. (In New York, it’s illegal to rent out a residential property for less than 30 days if the owner or tenant is not there.)

Earlier this year, the city also hit Airbnb with a subpoena for details on 20,000 apartment listings in the five boroughs. The blowback is not just limited to the public sector, though. A recent survey found that about one in 10 Airbnb guests have found cameras hidden in their short-term rentals, and even more are worried that cameras are watching them.

But Airbnb — which has turned the hospitality space on its head — has forged ahead with its no-holds-barred growth strategy despite any opposition.

The company is expanding internationally and, after years of rumors about an initial public offering, now finally seems to be on the brink of going public. CEO Brian Chesky, who co-founded Airbnb with Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk, has said it’ll happen this year. Here’s a closer look at some of the numbers behind Airbnb before it goes public — whenever that might be.

47,542

The number of listings on Airbnb in New York — the third most of any city that the independent website Inside Airbnb tracks. London had the most with 77,096 listings, and Paris followed with 59,881. By comparison, the five boroughs had 115,000-plus hotel rooms as of 2017, according to the Department of City Planning.

$38B

Airbnb’s reported valuation at the end of 2018. Hilton Worldwide Holdings, by comparison, was valued at about $27.3 billion as of last month. Some analysts have predicted that Airbnb will pull in $8.5 billion in revenue in 2021, a 123 percent increase from its 2018 revenue of $3.8 billion.

$540,000

The amount Airbnb spent on federal lobbying in 2018. While that is not a huge amount, it’s a significant jump over 2014’s $220,000. In addition, it doesn’t include all of the lobbying Airbnb has done at the local level in New York, where it has met strong resistance.

Brian Chesky

$3.7B

Brian Chesky’s net worth. The 37-year-old Airbnb co-founder ranked 568th on Forbes’ Billionaires 2019 list and 65th on its Richest in Tech 2017 list. Chesky, who attended the Rhode Island School of Design, earned $40,000 a year as an industrial designer prior to Airbnb.

$43

Uber’s stock price as of June 24, down from $45 at its May IPO. Many venture-capital-backed unicorns have seen their sky-high valuations drop after going public, but some analysts believe Airbnb might have a stronger showing given that it’s already profitable.

Mumbai, India

2.7B

The approximate combined population of India and China, where Airbnb has been ramping up its presence recently. Earlier this year, the firm made an investment rumored to be between $150 and $200 million in OYO, an Indian budget hotel management company. It also has a growing foothold in China, where it had 300 employees as of April.

Scott Rechler

10

The number of floors Airbnb and Scott Rechler’s RXR Realty are converting into residential space at 75 Rockefeller Plaza. The space, which is set to open in about a year, will feature roughly 200 units for overnight stays. The deal marks the first standalone Airbnb facility in a New York office building.

$21M

The amount NYC is suing brokerage Metropolitan Property Group over allegations that it ran an illegal network of Airbnb rentals, hosting 75,000 guests across 13,000-plus Manhattan rentals between 2015 and 2018. Company CEO Sami Katri has denied the allegations.


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