200206 Airbnb
The pandemic hit airbnb just as severely as any other travel focussed company out there. But demand from those wanting to book stays closer to their homes helped revive fortunes. The company's IPO proves that emphatically. Image Credit: Reuters

New York: Airbnb Inc. priced its long-awaited initial public offering above a marketed range to raise about $3.5 billion, capping a year in which it bounced back from the pandemic by capitalizing on closer-to-home travel.

The home-rental company's IPO came just hours after DoorDash Inc. almost doubled from its listing price in its debut trading session, adding to a flurry of consumer-facing web-based companies going public this month.

Airbnb and its investors are selling about 52 million shares for $68 each after marketing them for $56 to $60 each. At that price, Airbnb has a fully diluted value of about $47 billion, which includes employee stock options and restricted stock units.

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Bumper yield

Airbnb's listing adds to what was already a record year for IPOs, with more than $163 billion raised on US exchanges. That includes DoorDash's $3.37 billion offering. Other companies lined up for IPOs this month include video-game company Roblox Corp., installment loans provider Affirm Holdings Inc. and ContextLogic Inc., the parent of online discount retailer Wish Inc.

DoorDash's first-day surge propelled its valuation, including employee stock options and restricted stock units, to about $71 billion. An increase of a little more than 51 per cent when Airbnb shares begin trading Thursday would push the company's valuation past that of DoorDash.


Combined size of IPOs at US stock exchanges so far this year

Fast turnaround

San Francisco-based Airbnb had seen a bounce back in domestic bookings since the early days of the pandemic crushed demand. In a letter to shareholders, the three co-founders said the 10 months since the pandemic have been "the most defining period since we started Airbnb".

In the past 13 years, Airbnb has totally upended the travel market, given people an opportunity for income and created a whole new market for services related to real estate and hosts. Today, Airbnb is one of the biggest travel companies in the world.

The company's IPO plans were put on hold in March as the pandemic ground global travel to a halt. By April, room bookings had plunged 72 per cent. Airbnb rolled out a blanket refund policy and doled out more than $1 billion in cancellation fees.

By June, though, things were starting to look up. City dwellers who were sick of being stuck inside their homes got in their cars and drove to mountain towns and rural communities, often setting up for weeks or months at a time as work-from-home policies allowed.

Closer to home

International travel was down, but demand for domestic, short-distance trips and stays outside of the Top 20 cities was proving resilient. In the third quarter, Airbnb's revenue declined only 18 per cent, compared to the near 60 per cent decline for Expedia Group Inc. and Marriott International Inc. The three-month period was also Airbnb's most profitable ever, based on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Shares of Airbnb are expected to trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol ABNB.