Airbnb’s founder has estimated they have lost $1 billion during the COVID-19 pandemic as it is revealed the company plans to confidentially file for an initial public offering this month.
Brian Chesky said the short-term home rental company lost the staggering amount due to the refunds that had to be issued because of the global travel shutdowns that have occurred as a result of the pandemic.
While Airbnb normally doesn’t issue refunds and lets hosts determine their own cancellation policies, Chesky told The Times they had to give guests back their deposits because of border closures and lockdown measures.
Chesky, who said back in April that he was forgoing his salary for six months, gave $250 million in an attempt to cover the immediate losses felt during the quarter.
Airbnb has also axed about 2,000 employees – or 25 percent – amid the pandemic.
Chesky said he had to raise $2 billion in funds from investors as a result of the huge loss.
He noted that he has seen growth that coincided with coronavirus lockdowns being lifted.
‘Our business for last month has been at or above last year’s levels from a gross booking value (standpoint),’ he said.
Chesky said, however, that he now wants to go back to basics and focus on hosting properties in lesser-known destinations in a bid to save his company.
‘We grew so fast, we made mistakes,’ Chesky said.
‘We drifted. We really need to think through our impact on cities and communities. A reset for everything and everyone.’
He said that as part of a ‘serious audit’ he has suggested prioritizing everyday hosts over larger operators.
‘We stand for accommodation and services that are unique. Whether they are offered by a business or sole proprietor, they have to feel authentic,’ he said.
It comes as sources said the short-term home rental company was close to confidentially filing paperwork for an IPO with the US Securities and Exchange Commission later in August
Airbnb is preparing to potentially go public before the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.
An Airbnb spokesman declined to comment.
Airbnb had announced plans last year to become a publicly listed company in 2020, making it one of the biggest names to pursue a stock market float this year.