Airbnb Surge Suggests Tech Sector Feeling Pre-IPO Fever

Airbnb Surge Suggests Tech Sector Feeling Pre-IPO Fever Airbnb Co-Founders Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk, and Joe Gebbia.

Web-based lodging rental service Airbnb is engaged in capital-raising negotiations that could push its valuation past the $10 billion mark ahead of any potential initial public offering, according to reports in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal last week. The company’s ability to raise so much cash reinforces the idea that investment firms are eager to buy into hot ventures before they go public.

Airbnb is reportedly in discussions that could ultimately bring $400 million to its coffers from investment firms such as TPG Growth, Dragoneer Investment Group, and T. Rowe Price, as the Journal first noted and the Times also reported. Should the Silicon Valley–based company reap the financial infusion and see its valuation top $10 billion, it would be worth more than the Hyatt hotel chain, the Times notes.

As Michael De La Merced writes in the Times’s Dealbook section, “despite murmurs of a new technology bubble, valuations appear to be rising unchecked.” As further evidence, he cites the $16 billion Facebook recently paid for a text-messaging service WhatsApp and the $8 billion that research firm CB Insights reports flowed from venture capitalists web-based start-ups like Pinterest in last year’s fourth quarter. “The hope, as ever, is that these start-ups will eventually be sold or go public at still higher valuations,” De La Merced writes.

The cash influx is prompting some tech companies to put their IPO plans on hold, as the Financial Times recently reported and law.com highlighted.

Airbnb and companies like it that are based on a “sharing economy” business model do still face regulator challenges, both the Journal and the Times observe.

New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, for example, is seeking information from Airbnb about its customers in the state, who may be flouting real estate laws by using the serve. The Times notes that Airbnb is fighting Schneiderman’s request, and that a court hearing on the matter is set for the last week of March.

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