Airbnb share price doubles to value global home-share giant at $101.6bn

IPO highlights stunning recovery Airbnb's fortunes

Shares of Airbnb soared on their stock market debut on Thursday, with investors valuing the home rental company at $101.6 billion, the biggest US float of 2020.

Airbnb proved its resilience and popularity in a year that upended global travel but now it needs to prove to investors that there is more growth ahead.

The San Francisco home-sharing company made a triumphant debut on the public market, with shares more than doubling in price to open at $146.

Airbnb had priced its shares at $68 each late on Wednesday. The shares are trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol ABNB.

The IPO highlights a stunning recovery in Airbnb's fortunes after its business was heavily damaged by the Covid-19 pandemic this year.

Founded in 2008 as a website to take bookings for rooms during conferences, Airbnb was valued at  $18bn in a private fund-raising round in April, and $31bn in its last pre-coronavirus private fund-raising in 2017.

The surge at opening added billions to what was already a huge payday for founders Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joseph Gebbia, and investors including Sequoia Capital and Peter Thiel's Founders Fund.

This year there has seen stellar debuts by technology start-ups, including Wednesday's launch of DoorDash.

The food delivery company was valued at more than four times the figure from a private fund-raising round six months ago.

At $146, Airbnb had a market capitalisation of about $87.2bn, compared with Booking Holdings' $86.3bn and Marriott International's $42.3bn.

Airbnb struggled after the pandemic began as travel came to a grinding halt.

It had to lay off a quarter of its workforce and seek $2bn in emergency funds from investors.

But as lockdowns eased, more travellers chose to book homes instead of hotels, helping Airbnb to post a surprise profit for the third quarter.

The company also gained from increased interest in renting homes away from major cities.

Airbnb's listing is one of the most anticipated IPOs of 2020, which has already been a bumper year for flotations after record label Warner Music Group, data analytics company Palantir Technologies and data warehouse Snowflake went public.