In 2007, a cash-strapped Brian Chesky came up with a shrewd way to pay his $1,200 San Francisco apartment rent. He would offer “Air bed and breakfast” – three airbeds, breakfast, WiFi and a desk to work – to attendees of the Industrial Design Conference, who needed a place to crash over the weekend.
While airbedandbreakfast.com didn’t get off to a flashy start, Chesky and Joe Gebbia (co-founder) saw potential in the concept. They “launched” two more times, to rather muted reception. At SXSW, their hosts welcomed two guests, one being Chesky.
At the time, the website was exclusively for conferences and hosts were only allowed to use airbeds. These two constraints were removed in spring 2009, when the Airbnb we know today was formed. It featured its own payment solution, a risky move at a time when most online retailers swore by PayPal.
After an initial period of uncertainty, in which the founders sold Barack Obama and John McCain cereal to sustain the business (seriously), the company received $20,000 in seed funding from Y Combinator and Sequoia Capital. The next year, Sequoia and Greylock Partners invested $7.2 million in the Series A funding round. A few months after, Airbnb would announce its one millionth booking since launch.
Things moved quickly from there, in May 2011 Airbnb acquired Accoleo, a German clone of the website, and launched in many European cities. International expansion continued at a rapid pace, Airbnb would be available in South America, Asia and Australia before the end of 2012.
As it expanded, Airbnb has faced persistent opposition from several major cities, due to a perceived increase in the cost of rent for locals. Barcelona, Amsterdam, Paris, Venice and San Francisco, amongst others, have enacted regulations specifically targeted at the short-term rental market Airbnb popularized.
Airbnb has counteracted these protests with tourism taxes on rentals, but some have continued to push for an outright ban of the app and those like it.
In 2016, Airbnb expanded its service to include experiences, in which a host could offer tours or tickets to events through the app. Chesky also revealed the company’s intentions to launch an airline, as another way to vet the entire travel experience, although with the coronavirus pandemic those plans have likely been delayed indefinitely.
For the past three years, Airbnb has consolidated its position in the market. It acquired Luxury Retreats in 2017 for $200 million, followed by a $400 million acquisition of HotelTonight in 2019.
Even with these acquisitions, it is still considered a rather “light” asset company in comparison to its main rivals, Expedia and Bookings.com.
Airbnb has been one of the hardest hit platforms by the COVID-19. It faces a potential 54 percent loss to revenue this year, according to The Information. At the pandemic peak, new bookings were down 85 percent, although app usage has gradually increased as countries have relaxed travel restrictions.
Many Airbnb hosts in major cities switched to long-term rentals as the short-term market collapsed in March, as a way to maintain a steady (if lower) income. To keep hosts on the platform, Airbnb recently launched monthly stays, similar to a normal rental service, but without the usual yearly rental agreement.
Airbnb had planned to IPO this year, but with a $20 billion valuation knock, it has postponed the offering to later this year or early 2021.
We’ve collected data and statistics on Airbnb’s users, bookings, revenue and valuation throughout the years below. Read on to find out more.
|Launch date||11 August 2008|
|HQ||San Francisco, California|
|People||Brian Chesky (CEO), Joe Gebbia (chief product officer), Nathan Blecharczyk (chief strategy officer)|
|Company type||Private, planned IPO in 2020 or 2021.|
* Indicates projected bookings.
Airbnb user statistics
|Expedia Group||Expedia.com, HomeAway, Vrbo, trivago, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Travelocity.com|
|Booking Holdings||Bookings.com, Priceline, Agoda, Kayak|
|Tripadvisor||FlipKey, Housetrip, Viator|
Airbnb total booked nights vs rivals
Note: Covers Q1 2019
Airbnb other key stats
- Airbnb has more total listings worldwide than the top five hotel brands combined (Business Insider)
- Half a billion guests have stayed in Airbnb homes, earning hosts a total of $65 billion (Airbnb)
- Airbnb reached $4.7 billion in revenue in 2019 (Craft), although that is expected to have dropped in 2020 due to COVID-19
- Airbnb is active in over 200 countries and 81,000 cities
- The United States has the most listings, at 660,000, followed by France (485,000) and Italy (340,000)
- The most popular cities on Airbnb are Tokyo, Paris, Osaka, New York City and London
- There are over 50,000 experiences on Airbnb, these include DNA necklace crafting in Tacoma, WA, learning how to eat fire in Los Angeles, and a neural enhancement experience in London (Bustle).
- Airbnb has collected over $2 billion in tourism taxes for local authorities over the past four years (Airbnb)
- Airbnb has raised $5.4 billion in 16 funding rounds (Crunchbase)
- Airbnb’s latest funding round cut $20 billion off its value, due to the pandemic
- Before COVID-19, Airbnb was the third most valuable unicorn startup, behind China’s Bytedance and Didi Chuxing (CB Insights).