Start ups

Airbnb introduces host endowment, edges closer to IPO

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Airbnb has introduced the Airbnb Host Endowment, intended to provide financial support for its host community across the globe, as the home-sharing start-up prepares for an initial public offering (IPO).

Airbnb announced in August that it had confidentially filed for an IPO with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, in a move which it hopes will help it raise around $3 billion.

The new endowment, according to Airbnb, will provide support in areas including education and financial resources.

This comes as the digital home rental business has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in staff layoffs and seen hosts’ earnings take a nosedive.

Funds from the endowment will be allocated by Airbnb, with input from hosts. An advisory board will be created, to ensure voices from the host community are heard on how the endowment is invested, and will suggest Airbnb improvements, says the company.

“With the Airbnb Host Endowment, we want you [hosts] to share in our success – not merely at a single moment in time, but for as long as Airbnb exists,” said Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky, in a note to the Airbnb host community.

“We plan to seed the endowment with 9.2 million shares from Airbnb. We will start to invest the endowment in the host community once the value of the endowment exceeds $1 billion. With these commitments, I’m confident that hosting will always be at the centre of Airbnb, and our host community will share in our success.”

Airbnb has an estimated four million hosts across the globe.

In SA, the company distributed R1 million in financial relief to its hosts in July, after their business took a knock, as a result of the impact of the pandemic.

While the coronavirus pandemic has been the greatest crisis for all sectors, the tourism sector has been among those most affected, as global demand for travel stalled under the strict lockdown regulations introduced by governments worldwide.

In July, the company revealed it reached the one million nights booked globally in one day threshold for the first time in more than four months. While its business has not recovered from the impact of the pandemic, Airbnb says it views the uptick in guest bookings as an encouraging sign.

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