New York State

Airbnb sets course for public offering

Some observers are saying that the road to an IPO will be a bumpy one.


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Following in the footsteps of Uber, Lyft and WeWork, Airbnb announced Thursday that it expects to go public in 2020. The string of tech IPOs in the last year has drawn significant scrutiny, with onlookers calling the ride-hail companies’ public showings flops, and WeWork postponing an IPO until next year over investor concerns.

While Airbnb only officially announced its intention to go public yesterday, some observers are already saying that the road to an IPO will be a bumpy one, with the rockiest terrain being here in New York. Bloomberg Businessweek reported on Thursday that investors want Airbnb to resolve its regulatory and legal battles in New York state and New York City before going public, according to three unnamed people familiar with the matter. Airbnb has been working to establish new regulations in both the state and city but has so far been unsuccessful. 

The idea of tension-filled regulatory fights in New York City factoring into a company’s IPO is nothing new. Both Uber and Lyft cited new laws and regulations in New York City – including minimum-pay rules and a cap on new for-hire vehicle licenses – in their filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, describing existing or future regulations as potentially having adverse effects on their businesses. Airbnb is no doubt dependent on its business in New York City as well, though Uber is perhaps more so, as New York is among the five cities that make up almost 25% of Uber’s business. For Airbnb, New York accounts for less than 1% of all business, though alongside London and Paris, New York is one of the three cities where Airbnb has the most business.