With reported ambitions for growth ahead of a possible IPO, Airbnb may have discussed a deal to buy travel bookings service Hotel Tonight, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
To what extent these conversations ever gained serious traction isn’t clear, and the Journal reported that talks have since petered out between the two companies for the time being. Interestingly, it would seem that Hotel Tonight’s core function of filling unsold hotel rooms doesn’t quite jibe with Airbnb’s focus on community and experiences, a point the Journal seemed to indicate may have been a point of contention for Airbnb’s leadership:
Talks between Airbnb and Hotel Tonight, described by one of the people as informal, have gone cold though they could come back to life. Merging private companies is challenging in part because of a lack of public valuation benchmarks. Airbnb’s management has also been concerned about diluting the company’s brand as Hotel Tonight has partnerships with a wide range of hotels, some of the people said.
Airbnb, which welcomed former Amazon executive Dave Stephenson as its new chief financial officer late last year, said earlier this week that it had been profitable for two years in a row. While Airbnb is expected to go public this year alongside a number of other tech giants like Uber and Lyft, the Journal reported that its IPO may not necessarily be imminent. Citing sources familiar with the matter, the Journal said that the company’s intention to “shore up its hotel offerings first—with an acquisition or an internal ramp-up—is one key reason it is likely to wait longer than some of the others.”
Airbnb did not immediately return a request for comment about the report.
Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky has himself been cagey about going public in 2019. Speaking at Recode’s Code Conference in May of last year, Chesky said that Airbnb “will be ready to IPO next year, but I don’t know if we will.”
“We have investors who are really patient, and I want to make sure that it’s a major benefit to the company when we do it,” he added. Pressed by Recode’s Kara Swisher about whether it could happen, he responded: “It could happen.”