Back in March, there was something particularly cruel about how the pandemic affected Airbnb. As its bankers were finishing up paperwork to file for a direct listing, a way to go public when your cash coffers are so full you don’t need more cash, travel ground to a halt.
The company said revenue would likely take a 50% hit in the near-term. And it did the unthinkable for a fast-growing Silicon Valley tech company: laid off 25% of its employees. Airbnb borrowed $2 billion at stiff terms from private equity investors. The public listing, which some employees had waited a decade for, would have to wait—indefinitely.