Airbnb scored a major victory this week after Europe’s top court provided a key ruling at an important time for the company as it prepares to go public.
Airbnb executives will be floating on cloud nine this week after the European Court of Justice delivered a key ruling on Thursday that the room-sharing firm cannot be treated as a real estate agency by European regulators.
Airbnb is instead to be classified as an ‘information society service’, which could set an important precedent for other companies looking to capitalize on the so-called ‘gig economy’. The decision comes at a time where other ‘gig economy’ services such as Uber (NYSE: UBER) and Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT) come under continued scrutiny from government regulators. In Uber’s case, the loss of operating licenses and problems with violence have badly damaged the company.
So when is Airbnb going public?
Airbnb is preparing to go public sometime in 2020 and this ruling should make it easier for the company to attract investors who have grown weary of lawmakers looking to reduce the company’s presence in major cities.
Airbnb is expected to be valued at between $30 – 50 billion when it goes public next year.
Airbnb’s high valuation will likely cause some head-scratching on Wall Street as 2019 saw a long line of unicorns join the public market at high prices, and then fall; some well-known examples include Slack (NYSE: WORK), and Beyond Meat (NASDAQ: BYND). In the case of Beyond Meat, the company is still up 200% from its IPO price, but more than 500% lower than its July highs.
Airbnb’s Olympic-sized deal
Airbnb secured an important deal back in November, however, when it secured sponsorship rights to the next 5 Olympic games — Tokyo, Beijing, Paris, Milan, and Los Angeles.
The move presents a significant opportunity for Airbnb, who join some of the Olympics’ biggest sponsorship names — including Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA) and Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO). Simultaneously, the move allows the Olympic committee to reduce costs of housing in host cities by encouraging local citizens to sign up to Airbnb, as well as allow viewers of the Games themselves to use Airbnb when visiting.
Has Airbnb learned a lesson?
It would seem that Airbnb’s decision to go public in 2020 could not be timed any better, having announced the move back in September, mere days after WeWork’s own IPO fell apart.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky went on to state that he had learned some valuable lessons from the failings of Unicorn IPOs in 2019, and especially the mess that is WeWork. Hopefully, he can use these lessons to avoid the same mistakes.
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