Briefing

Airbnb’s first-quarter loss more than doubled in a year

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The home-rental company’s operating losses reached US$306 million in the first quarter, according to previously undisclosed data viewed by The Information. Its largest spending increase was in sales and marketing, in which it spent US$367 million, a 58 per cent increase from Q1 2018. “We can’t comment on the figures, but 2019 is a big investment year in support of our hosts and guests,” said an Airbnb spokesperson. (The Information)

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Talking point: Airbnb is a private company, so it hasn’t yet released detailed financial statements—though it has previously said its revenue “substantially” passed US$1 billion in the second quarter of this year. It’s common for firms to spend more in marketing just before going public, which the company said it aims to do in 2020. The heightened losses, however, may spook investors, especially in the wake of disappointing debuts from fellow tech firms Uber and Lyft, and WeWork’s abandoned IPO in September. Airbnb posted a profit of US$18.7 million last year, before interest and taxes. But it isn’t yet clear whether it can bring in enough extra business from its increased spending to justify it.

Correction: A previous version of this item misstated Airbnb’s operating losses. It has been updated with the correct number.