Airbnb reports $3.9bn loss in its first earnings report

26 Feb 2021251 Views

Image: © Daniel Krasoń/Stock.adobe.com

The company attributed the whopping loss to charges related its IPO last year while the pandemic continues to cloud its future plans.

In its first quarterly earnings report as a public company, Airbnb reported declining revenue and a hefty loss of $3.9bn.

Airbnb has felt the brunt of the pandemic with the shutdown of the vast majority of tourist travel.

Now the company has revealed that in the final quarter of 2020 it booked revenue of $859m, which was down from $1.1bn in same period in 2019.

Net losses for the quarter came in at a whopping $3.9bn, which the company said was attributable to its IPO costs, paying out stock-based compensation and $827m for an emergency loan it took out at the start of the pandemic.

The company had forecast that final revenue figures for 2020 would be half of what they were in 2019. In the end, revenue for the full year was $3.4bn, compared to $4.8bn in 2019.

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In early to mid-2020, when the coronavirus pandemic was taking hold across the world, Airbnb lost some $1bn in bookings and was forced to lay off staff to curb rapidly mounting costs.

Despite this unwelcoming atmosphere in the travel and tourism market, the company ploughed ahead with an IPO in December that valued it at more than $100bn.

The company will now be particularly reliant on countries’ vaccine strategies panning out and travel opening up again as soon as possible. Even prior to the pandemic, there were questions about Airbnb’s ability to turn its heady growth into a profit. Those questions are fiercer now as it weathers Covid-19.

“As the vaccine is rolled out and restrictions lift, we expect there will be a significant travel rebound,” the company said in a statement. “Our single priority in 2021 is to prepare for this travel rebound, perfecting our existing product by improving the entire end-to-end experience of our core service for both hosts and guests.”

In its shareholder letter, Airbnb added that it has “limited visibility for growth trends” and provided no outlook for the forthcoming year.

Once the pandemic subsides and some form of normalcy resumes, Airbnb will still have other persistent challenges to contend with, namely increasing regulation of short-term lettings.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

editorial@siliconrepublic.com