Airbnb shares set to double in IPO

Airbnb is set to double its share price in its IPO debut on Thursday in the latest in a wave of hotly-anticipated tech IPOs during a tumultuous year due to the pandemic…

Shares were priced at $68 on Wednesday and are now expected to reach about $150 when the stock starts trading, according to early indications ahead of the first trade. Airbnb will trade under the ticker “ABNB” on the Nasdaq.

The company is going public at a time when the sector has been battered by reduced travel trends during the public health crisis. Its revenue shrunk nearly 19% last quarter to $1.34 billion compared to the same period a year prior. But it still managed to turn a profit of $219 million and has had other intermittent quarters of profitability.

While travel has been lower, Airbnb managed to hit a sweet spot for those willing to venture out who preferred home-stays over traditional hotels. That could change when vaccines make more widespread travel more accessible again, possibly as soon as late next year.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said in an interview with CNBC’s Deirdre Bosa Thursday ahead of the IPO that the platform is considering the changed ways travelers are looking to plan their trips now that remote work is a possibility for many.

“Now that people are coming to Airbnb, they don’t even necessarily have a destination in mind or dates because they’re flexible. We’re all obviously on Zoom and so people are saying I want to go anywhere 300 miles around me, what can you show me,” he said. “Now we’re going to be getting a little bit more into the game of inspiration and matching people to the perfect home experience for them.”

Chesky also said he wouldn’t worry too much about valuation.

“I don’t think I’m going to worry much more than in April and May when we saw our business drop 80% in eight weeks in the middle of a pandemic,” he said.

Airbnb struggled with complaints from hosts on its platform early in the pandemic when the company granted leniency to guest cancellations, leaving hosts without payments that had come to expect. A Texas-based host filed a class action lawsuit against the company last month, alleging Airbnb violated its contract with hosts by offering the refunds. Airbnb called the lawsuit “frivolous and without merit” in a statement at the time.

As part of its IPO, Airbnb has created an…

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