Airbnb made $93 million in profit on $2.6 billion in revenue, but an internal clash sent the CFO out the door

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky.

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky.
Kimberly White/Getty Images

  • Airbnb is profitable, making almost $100 million in profit last year on $2.6 billion in revenue.
  • But last week, its CFO resigned, the company announced.
  • At the same time the CEO announced that the company would not go public in 2018.
  • It all signals an internal clash that sent the CFO for the door.

Airbnb had a very good 2017. It blew by its own internal forecasts to bring in $93 million in profit on $2.6 billion in revenue, reports Bloomberg’s Olivia Zaleski.

But an internal war between cofounder CEO, Brian Chesky, and CFO Laurence Tosi, the former Blackstone Group CFO, means that the company is not going public anytime soon, Zaleski reports.

When Tosi joined Airbnb in 2015, it looked like Airbnb was signaling it was prepping for an IPO.

But Tosi quit the company last week and Chesky explained the departure to several press outlets like this: “I know people will ask what these changes mean for a potential IPO. Let me address this directly. We are not going public in 2018. We will make decisions about going public on our own timetable.”

Tosi was apparently a financial wiz internally, creating a hedge-fund style investment fund for Airbnb with stocks, currencies, and other investments that contributed as much as 30% of the company’s cash flow, Bloomberg reports.

But the two men reportedly clashed almost from the get-go. Tosi comes from the classic, brash, go-getter mold that thrives in the Wall Street banker world. Chesky lives in the warm-and-fuzzy Silicon Valley world. He recently wrote a blog post where he talked about Airbnb being “values-led, leading with boldness and compassion.”

As a profitable business, though, Airbnb doesn’t seem to need to raise more money. It has raised $4.4 billion in venture funding, including a round in March that valued the company at $31 billion. It has $5 billion in the bank, the company said, and earlier this year, and at Tosi’s recommendations, rejected an investment offer by SoftBank.

SoftBank has become the big kahuna in the Valley with its billion-dollar investment fund. It’s been buying up massive stakes in promising startups like Uber, WeWork, and even dog-walking app company Wag.

Tosi didn’t want more investment but was pushing for an IPO to happen this year, while Chesky was in no hurry, Bloomberg reports. Founders and early employees have already cashed out of $350 million in equity, the story points out. Even so, the board did invite Morgan Stanley to meet with them and present options for going public.

However, an Airbnb spokesperson says the company never had plans for an IPO in 2018, telling Business Insider in a statement:

“The senior leadership and Board of the company has been aligned and the company has never had plans to go public in 2018. The Morgan Stanley presentation was requested by Founders and Board to have options for review and informed the decision-making process for all – and everyone agreed with the decision that the company would not go public in 2018.”