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  • - 2020 was supposed to be the golden year for Airbnb,

  • it was supposed to be the year that Airbnb went public.

  • They were supposed to be the hottest offering

  • of this year.

  • - [Narrator] In just under a decade,

  • Airbnb went from a single air mattress for rent

  • to a global company valued at more than 30 billion dollars.

  • The home sharing giant has thousands of employees,

  • over three million hosts, and seven million listings

  • in over 220 countries.

  • It even branched out with a new division called Experiences.

  • Which allows guests to book outings.

  • But travel is now at a stand still.

  • Airbnb's planned listing is in doubt.

  • Expected revenue is down by at least half,

  • and CEO Brian Chesky said 25% of staff will be cut.

  • So how did one of the most successful startups of the decade

  • become such a vulnerable company?

  • - Airbnb was founded in the aftermath

  • of the 2008 financial crisis.

  • A lot of ordinary people had lost their jobs

  • and were looking for secondary income.

  • Once the idea of sharing your home with someone took off,

  • a lot of people bought into that promise.

  • - You know we had revenue from day one.

  • And we didn't actually need to raise money

  • at any given point.

  • We decided that we invest ahead of growth

  • and we've always tried to think about it like a throttle.

  • So that we could at any given point

  • throttle into profitability.

  • - Airbnb was profitable by a certain measure

  • in 2017 and 2018.

  • So that gave investors a lot of confidence

  • and excited everyone, really,

  • about the prospect of a startup like this

  • that has become a household name

  • around the world to go public.

  • - These are beautiful homes.

  • - [Narrator] The company spent big

  • during this period of growth.

  • Administrative costs increased 113% between 2017 and 2019

  • as they hired thousands of employees

  • and built out a corporate headquarters

  • in a trendy San Francisco neighborhood.

  • Then 2019 ended with a tragedy.

  • - Airbnb now says it is banning house parties.

  • That after a shooting left five people dead

  • in San Francisco in a suburb there on Halloween night.

  • - This mass shooting was really a moment of reckoning

  • for Airbnb and that's what led them to invest

  • over 100 million dollars into safety initiatives.

  • - [Narrator] These expenses helped bring Airbnb's

  • total costs to 5.3 billion dollars last year.

  • More than double what they were in 2017.

  • - You had board members grilling some of the executives

  • and saying, "Hey, your costs

  • "are outpacing your revenue growth.

  • "Lets reign that in, let's control that."

  • And then of course the pandemic hit

  • and changed everything for Airbnb.

  • - China says the number of people infected

  • by a mysterious respiratory virus

  • has more than tripled over the weekend.

  • - [Narrator] In January, officials in China

  • issued local travel warnings and restrictions

  • following the spread of Covid-19.

  • - It wiped out bookings over night in China.

  • So remember at the time,

  • no one thought this would become a global problem.

  • - [Narrator] And then on March 11th, President Donald Trump

  • announced new international travel restrictions.

  • As Airbnb bookings fell, Chesky held in-person meetings

  • with employees to discuss what these new developments meant

  • for Airbnb and their plans to go public.

  • - What was happening was a lot of anxiety

  • was building among employees

  • because a lot of them have stock options.

  • And those are set to expire later this year,

  • which meant that if they didn't go public this year,

  • a lot of valuable options that employees hold

  • would just be worthless.

  • So Mr. Chesky really took it upon himself

  • to reassure employees, to say,

  • "It's gonna be okay.

  • "We are still very much going to list this year."

  • That changed in a matter of days.

  • By the end of March, he struck a more cautious tone.

  • He held a video conference with employees

  • where he said everything is on the table.

  • - [Narrator] Around this time many guests

  • began to demand refunds for reservations.

  • But Airbnb had a long time practice

  • of allowing hosts to set their own cancellation policies.

  • - But in a world where you have guests fighting back

  • and saying, "Hosts are not giving us any refunds,

  • "what's Airbnb gonna do about it?"

  • I think that really shook the company as well.

  • - [Narrator] This led to a sudden decision by Chesky

  • to give guests refunds for certain bookings.

  • After backlash from some hosts,

  • Chesky issued an apology to them.

  • - I am sorry.

  • I'm sorry we didn't consult you as partners.

  • And I've heard from you ever since that decision.

  • - [Narrator] Airbnb said it would pay hosts 25%

  • of what they would have received for canceled bookings.

  • They also created a 17 million dollar mortgage fund

  • to help top rated hosts cover mortgages.

  • By April the company had barely any revenue

  • coming in from short term stays.

  • - So they ended up raising a billion dollars in debt

  • at a very high interest rate

  • that is associated with distressed assets.

  • So overnight Airbnb went from being

  • the Silicon Valley unicorn

  • that is a household name around the world,

  • to being reduced to business that is in distress.

  • - [Narrator] On May fifth, Brian Chesky announced

  • massive staff cuts in a memo

  • that has drawn praise for addressing the impending layoffs

  • with compassion and clarity.

  • Chesky said nearly 2000 employees,

  • a quarter of Airbnb's workforce would be cut.

  • He also said 2020 revenue would be less

  • than half of what it was in 2019.

  • - I think everyone would be very surprised

  • if they choose to go public later on this year.

  • What I'm hearing from investors

  • is that Airbnb would need at least two good quarters

  • before they go public.

  • - [Narrator] The pandemic has shifted Airbnb

  • in fundamental ways.

  • The company is pivoting to longterm stays,

  • and recently rolled out cleaning guidelines

  • to help guests feel safe whenever they do return to rentals.

  • The sudden collapse of the Airbnb economy

  • that was a lifeline for many

  • has also exposed deep cracks in the sharing economy.

  • - [Preetika] If you think about it,

  • Airbnb is really a property manager

  • without the property risk.

  • Unlike hotels that run and manage their properties,

  • Airbnb doesn't own any of the properties.

  • The pandemic has really held a mirror

  • and has really made us all question

  • the very fundamentals of the sharing economy.

  • Who takes on the risk.

- 2020 was supposed to be the golden year for Airbnb,

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Airbnb是如何從成功的創業公司跌入危機模式的? (How Airbnb Fell From Successful Startup to Crisis Mode | WSJ)

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    chengye.cai 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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