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From: Paul H. Christiansen2/6/2018 11:32:13 PM
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Inside Airbnb’s Battle to Stay Private

Early last week, the top executives of Airbnb Inc. gathered in San Francisco for annual planning meetings. They were brimming with confidence. The home-rental company had exceeded financial projections for 2017, with $93 million in profit on $2.6 billion in revenue, said people with knowledge of the matter. Airbnb was ready, by some employees’ estimations, to begin the process to go public.

But the boss had another view. Brian Chesky, the 36-year-old co-founder and chief executive officer, privately informed his financial chief, Laurence Tosi, that Airbnb wouldn’t initiate an initial public offering this year, the people said. The news came as a surprise to Tosi. He had been discussing the prospect with major investors before transitioning to a larger role beyond finance.

Chesky made it clear that things wouldn’t go as Tosi wanted. Chesky said he would promote Belinda Johnson, who was running business affairs and legal, to chief operating officer. Tosi had expected to get the COO job after Airbnb’s public offering. He’d struggled to work with Johnson in the past, and some insiders viewed the move as a way to force Tosi’s departure. Accounts differ on whether Chesky then asked Tosi for his resignation, but by the end of the meeting, the CFO was out.

Tosi declined to comment. Nick Papas, a spokesman for Airbnb, disputed that Chesky and Tosi discussed the IPO timeline last week. “The senior leadership and board of the company has been aligned, and the company has never had plans to go public in 2018,” Papas wrote in an email. He made that statement after the story was published, after having declined to comment before publication. Airbnb later issued another statement, saying, “Any individual, currently or formerly associated with the company in a position to have knowledge, communicating that the company had plans to go public in 2018 would have been mis-representing the facts.”

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