With Airbnb reportedly considering a delayed IPO amid the coronavirus outbreak, here are 6 of the company’s challenges that are worrying investors


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Airbnb started in 2008 as a way for people to rent out spare rooms to strangers. Since then, it has grown into a global travel company valued by private investors at $31 billion by offering everything from bespoke trips to property management services, with seven million rental listings in more than 220 countries. 

Last September, Airbnb announced its plans to become a publicly traded company in 2020, and some market watchers are speculating that the company could start that process in the first half of this year. It’s also reportedly considering listing its shares directly rather than through a traditional initial public offering.

However, sources recently told Bloomberg that Airbnb’s timeline could be moved back as far as 2021 as the coronavirus continues to roil markets and the travel industry in particular.

Airbnb’s path to the public markets has been slower than some of its peers — a source of tension among executives, rank-and-file employees, and investors, who worry the company may have missed its window. CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky has said the company is simply taking a long-term view of its business, or what Chesky has called an “infinite time horizon.”

As Airbnb debated where a public offering should fit on that horizon, many of its fellow “unicorns” — companies valued at more than $1 billion — decided to take the plunge last year.

But Wall Street wasn’t impressed. Companies like Uber, Lyft, and Slack have struggled to drive up stock prices, while WeWork abandoned its IPO entirely amid controversies surrounding its financials and governance.

It’s against this backdrop — and amid fears of an impending economic recession — that Airbnb readies itself for public scrutiny. So, when investors finally get to kick the tires, they’ll be paying especially close attention to these six things.

Do you work at Airbnb and have more information or concerns about the company’s plans for the future? Contact this reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal at (+1) 503-319-3213 using a non-work device, email at tsonnemaker@businessinsider.com, or Twitter DM at @TylerSonnemaker. (PR pitches by email only, please.)

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