By Chloe Aiello
Airbnb is primed for one of the most widely anticipated public offerings of 2019 ー but that doesn't mean CEO Brian Chesky will actually seal the deal next year.
Leigh Gallagher, Fortune editor and author of "The Airbnb Story," thinks it's pretty unlikely.
"I would not be surprised if they do not go in 2019, just because Brian Chesky has been very adamant that ... they are in no rush," Gallagher told Cheddar Wednesday. "He has this philosophy that it's better to go public the bigger you are, so I think that they want to wait as long as possible."
Gallagher said recent regulatory spats may also influence the company's decision to go public, adding that these types of concerns "may never go away to some degree."
At Recode's Code Conference in May, Chesky said the company "will be ready to IPO next year," adding that he wasn't sure if they actually would. The startup currently employs more than 3,000 and has an estimated valuation of $31 billion, according to TechCrunch. In addition, it reportedly has some pretty solid finances. Airbnb on Friday indicated that its latest quarter was "the strongest quarter in Airbnb history," and the first in which the company recognized "substantially more" than $1 billion in revenue. The company also said it saw growth in key overseas markets, like Beijing, Mexico City, and Johannesburg.
"The model is very efficient, unlike a lot of other tech companies," Gallagher said. "This is a company that has very little overhead, because it's other people's houses."
Airbnb is undoubtedly growing, but that might not be enough for Chesky to take it public, Gallagher said.
"He really believes that there are four reasons to go public: if you need the money, for a branding event, for cash for M&A or for liquidity, for investors and employees," she said.
If anything, liquidity for employees might be the biggest driver toward an IPO, Gallagher said. But first, Airbnb has some regulatory issues to work out.
Airbnb has come under fire in recent years for a spate of regulatory scuffles in certain markets. In New York City, for example, the comptroller has taken a very public stance against the company, alleging its short-term rentals exacerbate rising rent costs across the city. Earlier this month, Washington's D.C. Council voted to place some of the tightest limits in the country on Airbnb and other short-term rental companies, in an effort to help home-buyers and renters in a tight housing market.
Most recently, Airbnb decided to pull about 200 listings from Israeli settlements in the the embattled West Bank. Its decision was based on a new framework Airbnb established to determine whether or not to list in occupied territories. The framework requires evaluating "whether the existence of listings is contributing to existing human suffering."
"When we applied our decision-making framework, we concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians," Airbnb said in a statement.
Gallagher said this is Airbnb's effort to "take a stand" in light of broader conversations about the responsibility of tech companies to be good global citizens. While the company is taking heat from Israel about the decision, Gallagher said that's no surprise.
"They are going right into the heart of the biggest conflict in humanity," she said.