|The Big Idea|
Airbnb survived the pandemic and is on the cusp of an IPO
Airbnb is back from the brink.
Seven months removed from one of the darkest periods in CEO Brian Chesky’s tenure at the helm, things are looking a lot rosier.
The pandemic’s abrupt arrival in March brought travel to a halt, and with it, Airbnb saw a devastating drop in business. During one stretch, bookings in Europe were down 80% vs. the same period in 2019.
Hosts across the US were left with a cascading run of cancellations that threatened to cripple the company’s critical partners.
Short on cash, Chesky laid off thousands
He refocused on Airbnb’s core travel business, scaling back aggressive bets like Experiences.
Chesky provided refunds to guests, then had to repair relations with hosts, using part of a $1B lifeline from private equity firm Silver Lake to help.
Slowly, things started to turn
While Americans weren’t traveling overseas as much, or even cross-country, remote work created a new demand for shorter distance stays.
Average stay length increased 18% to 4.27 days from January to June, while bookings recovered and outpaced 2019 levels during the same period.
With things back on track, the company recently filed to go public, setting the stage for a December IPO that will likely be one of the year’s hottest debuts.
Who’s getting paid?
Not me, but a lot of other people.
If this payday wasn’t enough, Airbnb just pulled a massive personnel coup, landing Apple’s former design chief, Sir Jony Ive.
- Earnings roundup: $AAPL’s iPhone slowed (waiting for the 12) but Mac sales were up; $AMZN’s sales are up heading into the holiday; $GOOGL and $FB both saw ad growth.
- We on a boat: Wanderlust, a startup that helps marinas manage boats, just raised $14.2m.
- Do good: Stripe rolled out a service to help companies “remove carbon as you grow your business.”
- Whoop there it is! Whoop, the fitness tracker backed by Patrick Mahomes, raised $100m at a valuation of $1.2B.
- Some good people invented a tactile pregnancy test that the visually impaired can use without compromising privacy.
- Bonus: Tale as old as time… Netflix raised its prices, we pay.
‘It’s all about finding where the customers are and going to them’
Jinx is a D2D — that’s direct-2-dog — brand that sells premium doggie kibble with an emphasis on superfoods and nutrition (if you’re feeling seasonal, here’s an apple and pumpkin treat ?).
Founded by 3 of the first 14 employees at the DTC sleep company Casper, the LA-based brand officially launched back in February.
We recently spoke with one of Jinx’s co-founders, Sameer Mehta, about his experience of launching a startup during a pandemic. Here’s an abridged version of our chat:
How have Jinx’s first 7-8 months gone?
Looking at performance, we’ve blown past expectations on one key metric: subscriptions. We aimed to have 40% of our customers as subscribers in year 1 and we’re already at 70%.
Is there any famous dog owner you’ve hooked?
[Cleveland Browns wide receiver] Odell Beckham Jr. feeds his dog Jinx!
What have been some keys to your success?
COVID changed a lot of behavior, so we switched up our approach by establishing new types of partnerships:
It’s all about finding where the customers are and going to them.
How big is the dog food opportunity?
The entire dog food market is $20B. Dry food (where we compete) makes up 95% ($19B), and fresh food makes up 5% ($1B).
Owners are crazy about their pets and the entire dog nutrition category is growing.
(Read the full Q&A here)
Corporate people getting busted for stuff they say
The WeWork drama keeps on keeping on.
Last October, SoftBank tried to salvage WeWork’s failed IPO by making an offer to take over the beleaguered real estate startup for $9.5B.
The bid included $3B for WeWork shareholders, including those owned by its ex-CEO, Adam “shoes are optional” Neumann.
Well, SoftBank’s CEO Masayoshi Son didn’t want to pay out
In a series of undated texts that recently came to light, Son asked one of his top lieutenants (Marcelo Claure) to delay the tender offer:
The tender never went through and SoftBank was actually within its legal rights to walk away from the offer — but the texts don’t look great.
A few other not-so-great corporate communications
Here are 2 from our favorite Harvard dropouts-turned-billionaires:
Editing by: Zachary “Host with the most” Crockett, Douse and Burnham (401(k) Analysts).