Airbnb might go public if Spotify has a successful listing

Daniel Ek SpotifyLouis Lanzano/BloombergDaniel Ek, chief executive officer of Spotify Ltd., speaks at a news conference in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011.

Airbnb is apparently keeping a close eye on Spotify’s rumoured listing.

Specifically, Airbnb might want to mimic Spotify’s unconventional route to going public, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The music streaming firm is reportedly not planning a traditional IPO, instead hoping to register its shares directly on the New York Stock Exchange without raising a new round of funding.

A direct listing is better for companies which don’t need the cash, but do want a way for employees, founders, and other shareholders to start trading their shares. Spotify, for example, raised $US1 billion (£777 million) in debt financing last March, so is unlikely to need more money from an IPO. Airbnb raised the same amount in a Series F round just two months ago.

One advantage to this approach is that companies can go public without some of the drama. Facebook took the more traditional IPO route, and its first day as a public company was dogged by questions about its valuation and technical glitches. As Kathleen Smith, principal of Renaissance Capital put it: “The store is open but you don’t have anyone marketing or setting up meetings.”

And according to the report, the NYSE has suffered as firms like Uber and Airbnb rack up lots of cash, but choose to stay private. The exchange is reportedly changing its listing rules to allow unicorn tech firms — which are valued at more than $US1 billion — to go public via a direct listing more easily.

Airbnb has not immediately responded to a request for comment.

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