Airbnb is preparing for a very important year. The goal set by the board of directors is for the San Francisco-based company to go public by the end of 2019 and the first estimates of the analysts put the value of capitalization of the company around 30,000 million dollars, thanks to the unstoppable growth of the business of the platform, that already has five million ads worldwide and half a million in Spain alone.
But the company is not willing for the distribution of profits to be limited to investors and shareholders, who are currently the owners of the shares of an unlisted company. "Airbnb is a company based on the concept of community and we would not be anything without our landlords. We want our most loyal hosts to be shareholders, but for that we need the laws to change, "he remarked recently. Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, alluding to the need that landlords can also participate in the benefits (capital gains or dividends) of being shareholders of the company.
Not all rental ads that Airbnb has belong to a single person. The calculations made by the platform itself establish an average of 80% of landlords who have only one advertisement, so a first approximation would yield data of 400,000 landlords in Spain and 4 million around the world. That would be the potential universe of new Airbnb shareholders. Some figures that are only estimates, since the legislations in this matter are different in each country and that the SEC can veto the issuance of shares abroad in companies that are not listed, as is the case with Airbnb.
To integrate them into the capital of the company, the first thing you have to do is convince the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to change its rules. This regulatory body is very restrictive when authorizing investments of small shareholders in companies that are not listed because of the high risks that they may entail. To avoid them, it sets a minimum of $ 300,000 in equity to compensate for the additional risk, which practically leaves out the vast majority of these small shareholders.
The strategy of Airbnb is to convince the SEC so that amend section 701 of the US Securities and Securities Act, in order to add the participants of the collaborative economy (the landlords) within those groups that can be shareholders in unlisted companies. In fact it was the same regulatory body that started on July 18 a public consultation on the idea of changing the aforementioned article, which was followed by a letter from Airbnb, dated on September 21, in which he urged the aforementioned body to make those changes.
If it exceeds 2,000 shareholders, it will be obliged
to report as if it were a listed company
But if Airbnb finally convinces the SEC, something that does not seem easy due to the agency's zeal to protect the small investor, new obligations will also be imposed on landlords and the company itself, some of which clash with the philosophy of the company. Once the landlords become shareholders, they will have to pay taxes on the titles they hold, while the company, once it exceeds 2,000 individual shareholders. (not including employees) would be subject by US laws to information requirements similar to those of a listed company.
A red line that Airbnb has already put in its negotiations with other administrations, such as the Spanish one. The Treasury has frequently complained about the fiscal opacity of this type of platforms, since they do not share information with the tax administration, which they consider to be a very important fraud route for a large number of people who rent out their homes to tourists and they do not declare the income they get. In fact, it was the Treasury Ministry that drafted a decree in late 2016 to force the platforms, and especially Airbnb, to provide their clients' data. Airbnb refused to consider that it is a mere intermediary and that it can not assign such data. Subsequently, the Treasury hardened the norm and through a regulation established a quarterly data presentation calendar that will start in the first three months of 2019. Now, the new socialist executive goes further and prepares a tax that will force him to pay 3% of the transactions made between landlords and guests.
Visits or dinners Airbnb does not want to stick exclusively to its role as an intermediary between homeowners and landlords. And proof of this is the start-up in 2017 in Spain of the division called Trips, after the acquisition of the startup Trip4Real. This website offered the experiences of private clients for tourists, which could range from a guided tour, a dinner or a wine tasting at an address, a photography course or a paragliding flight. This model has been transferred to Airbnb, always on the condition that the service is offered by a private individual to another individual.
Local. In parallel to the travel division, the platform has created Airbnb for Work with the objective of developing the business in three key areas: teambuilding, off-site and relocation. The houses of the hosts of the platform could be used for meetings or meetings organized by the companies in order to team up and reinforce the integration of the employees. They could also be used, as long as the measures were fixed, to organize events. The third axis of this strategy would focus on what the company calls relocations, which would be the relocation of employees displaced to other cities seeking "a sense of belonging to the community."