Tag Archives: AirBnB

Travel Series: AIrBnB – “Baller IPO” or Desperate Hail Mary (including a 3.5 bn USD accounting time bomb) ?

Intro

Long term readers know that I have covered the (online) travel industry intensively and that I actually have build up a “post pandemic travel basket” recently. Therefore, I was really excited to look at AirBnB’s S-1 going public filing.

Airbnb is one of the most prominent Unicorns of the last decade. The company was founded in 2007 and has since then become one of the really big names in online travel. It describes itself as having established a new category of travel called “home sharing” and that all the hosts on the platform as well as the clients are a big “community” that make travel “Human”.

However the big “elephant in the room” is the question: Why do they go public now after 13 years ? Why didn’t they go public earlier or wait a few more months once the travel recovery really kicks in ?

There was already a lot of press coverage already for Airbnb in the past weeks. I think in general one could distinguish between the Bull Case and the Bear Case:

The Bull case :

  • It’s a “positive” global brand with strong growth potential and a huge TAM (all travel lodging globally ) 
  • People will rent apartments first if travel rebounds 
  • Restrictions maybe less a problem in cities after Covid-19

One of the biggest cheerleaders of the Bull case is clearly Prof. Scott Galloway who wrote a big post some days ago, putting the value of AirBnB at 120 bn USD with the following statement:

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Online Travel Updates (Expedia, Booking, Tripadvisor, Trivago & AirBNB / Google)

Expedia 

I invested into Expedia in February 2018 after the stock had become cheap enough. The idea was that a stock in a secular growth sector (online travel) should do well in the long run. After pretty decent fulll year 2018 numbers, with double digit increases in both, top and bottom, line, the first quarter 2019 showed a clear slowdown. Topline growth slowed to ~4%. Excluding Trivago which is still shrinking, topline sales would have grown +6%. Underlying profitability has improved although the first quarter is always the weakest one.

What I found interesting is the fact that Expedia performed better than Booking com. Here is a stock price comparison (including Tripadvisor  and Trivago):

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