Despite a stunning public debut on the market in December that left the company’s valuation over $100 billion after its first day of trading, Airbnb has reported a net loss of $4.6 billion for 2020 in its first earnings report released on Thursday.
The short-term rental company earned $3.4 billion in revenue for the year, which was a 30 percent decline from the year before, but still better than its initial projections of a 50 percent (or more) year over year decline in revenue at the height of the pandemic.
The company’s net loss was both driven by the hit the travel industry took as a result of the pandemic, as well as $2.8 billion in non-cash stock-based compensation expenses the company took on with its IPO. Those expenses contributed to a fourth quarter net loss of $3.9 billion, compared to a net loss of $352 million in Q4 2019. Airbnb’s revenue during the fourth quarter of 2020 was also a contributing factor, which was down 22 percent year over year to $859 million, compared to $1.1 billion the year before.
“Our performance in 2020 showed that Airbnb is resilient and inherently adaptable,” Airbnb Co-Founder and CEO Brian Chesky said in a statement. “Travel is coming back and we are laser-focused on preparing for the travel rebound.”
In a letter to shareholders, the company reiterated its resiliency over the last year and expressed optimism for a reinvigorated travel industry in the year ahead. The letter also noted that in a recent survey conducted by Airbnb, 54 percent of respondents reported that they have already booked, are currently planning, or expect to travel in 2021. Over 50 percent of respondents also plan to keep that travel domestic or local.
In the year ahead, the company also noted, it plans to rollout education efforts about what makes Airbnb unique, recruit more hosts, simplify the guest experience and “deliver world-class service.”
The company has seen its share of growing pains over the years with new regulations about short-term rentals popping up in different cities and states across the U.S. in the wake of its growing popularity. In Arizona, among other places, some homeowners are campaigning for laws to govern short-term rentals in the wake of increased noise, crime and falling property values that have come with more of these rentals entering the market.