Is Airbnb Going Public After Its Massive Funding Round?

March 15, 2017 - 3 minutes read

In the wake of Snapchat’s IPO earlier this month, the big question for mobile app developers is what unicorn will go public next. Airbnb always seems to come up in these conversations, and after a SEC filing last week revealed that the company raised $1 billion in a funding round that began last summer, many in the industry are waiting to see what the company’s plans are. CEO Brian Chesky has insisted that there’s no push from investors to go public, but at a talk at the Economic Club of New York on Monday, he suggested that the company could be halfway through a two-year process toward an initial public offering.

Now valued at $31 billion, Airbnb is the second most valuable private company in the United States after Uber. As of the second half of 2016, it is profitable, and it expects to stay that way, with projected annual revenues of up to $3.5 billion by 2020. Airbnb’s app development team has a clear ambition to expand its services to become an end-to-end travel service and has made two interesting acquisitions in the past year that push it closer to that goal: the social payment app Tilt and Luxury Retreats, a sort of Airbnb for upscale lodging. It is also investing in Resy, an app for booking restaurant reservations. Bay Area app developers will be watching closely as Airbnb continues to evolve from its humble we-have-an-air-mattress-to-spare origins into a one-stop juggernaut of a platform that changes the way we conceive of travel.

This drive to innovate and expand services beyond the startup’s initial concept bodes well for Airbnb if and when Chesky decides to take the company public. Still, there are many obstacles the company faces as it grows, including legal tangles (such as a lawsuit with the state of New York settled this past December) and a hotel lobby on the warpath. The company seems to be moving toward strong, conscientious leadership to counter its troubles and possibly prepare for an IPO with initiatives like the company’s recently announced “economic empowerment” agenda, which emphasizes the company’s positive economic impact in communities, and the creation of an advisory board made up of users. Whatever the next step is for Airbnb, mobile app developers will need to pay close attention to see what lessons can be gleaned from its growth strategy.

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