'We have not decided if we will go public in 2019': Airbnb cofounder hints at IPO timing

The logo of Airbnb is displayed at an Airbnb event in Tokyo, Japan, June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo
  • Co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk has cast doubt on the possibility of share sale in 2019.

  • “We have already said that we are taking the steps to be ready to go public in 2019. That doesn’t mean we will go public in 2019”: Blecharczyk told Business Insider.

  • The online travel services startup last valued at $31 billion was expected to hit the market by June 2019.
Wall Street has been waiting for the initial public offering from one of the hottest startups from Silicon Valley - Airbnb. When long-time Amazon vice president Dave Stephenson joined Airbnb in November 2018, it confirmed the market’s best hopes.

The share sale was expected to hit the market as early as June, TechCrunch reported last year citing sources.

However, the wait may be longer than expected. “We have already said that we are taking the steps to be ready to go public in 2019. That doesn’t mean we will go public in 2019,” co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk told Business Insider in an email interview.

The 10-year old startup is a marketplace for travellers seeking accomodation and offers over 5 million places to stay in more than 81,000 cities and 191 countries, according to the company website.

Airbnb was valued at $31 billion after the second half of its $1 billion Series F in May 2017. It reported a revenue of over $1 billion in the third quarter of 2018. “We have not decided if we will go public in 2019 and our focus is on building a 21st century company and we’re all committed to that goal,” Blecharczyk added.

While he did not emphasise on the reasons for the possible delay, initial public offerings have been off to a slow start in 2019. Globally, companies raised only $5.4 billion in 2019, down by 78% from the same period a year ago, global financial data provider Dealogic said in a report last month.

A variety of reasons ranging from the uncertainties emerging from the Britain’s painfully protracted exit from the European Union to the trade war between US and China have hurt the investors’ risk appetite.

Particularly in the US, companies aspiring to go public have faced added challenges. The government shutdown limited the staff strength at the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the process of reviewing IPO registration documents by the market regulator was slowed down. "It's a direct reflection of the government shutdown," said Jackie Kelley, Americas IPO leader at EY (earlier known as Ernst & Young) told the CNN recently.

Further, investors have been shy of risk since the global market sell-off at the end of 2018. Many popular stocks like Snap and Spotify lost a lot of value by the year end.

While the rest of the market has rebounded since, "IPO investors are pretty price sensitive right now," Kathleen Smith, principal at Renaissance Capital, which manages ETFs that track recent IPOs, reportedly said last month.

Other major IPOs expected on Wall Street this year include Uber, Lyft, Slack, and Pinterest.

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