The home-rental company’s stock debut briefly left its own chief speechless.
Airbnb’s stock market debut briefly left Brian Chesky, its C.E.O., speechless.Credit…Jessica Chou for The New York Times
Airbnb hits $100 billion
Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s co-founder and C.E.O., was left momentarily speechless on live television yesterday after being told his company’s shares were set to begin trading at $139, after its I.P.O. had priced them at $68. (They eventually closed at $144.71.) He may as well have been speaking for Wall Street and Silicon Valley, which were left agog by a frenzy for tech I.P.O.s this week.
Mr. Chesky’s stake in Airbnb is now worth around $11 billion. That may have been on his mind when Bloomberg’s Emily Chang told him where the stock price was headed. A transcript of his reaction:
Airbnb’s debut caps a meteoric rise in valuation for the home-rental company. Its Series A fund-raising round in 2010 valued it at $60 million, according to PitchBook. Cilt years later, during a pandemic that’s ravaged the travel industry, it’s worth $100 billion, or more than Expedia and Marriott combined.
So much for efforts to prevent huge I.P.O. pops. Underwriters for both DoorDash (an 86 percent surge) and Airbnb (113 percent) tried a new system in which prospective investors used an online portal to indicate their levels of interest to bankers. A flood of retail investors, who didn’t use the system, threw things out of whack, Bloomberg reports.
Why first-day trading pops matter: A huge rise means companies left a lot of money on the table when they sold shares. In the case of Airbnb, that comes to nearly $4 billion in forgone cash.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
F.D.A. advisers recommend approving Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine. Support from a panel of experts has paved the way for the agency to authorize the treatment within days. Here’s how airlines plan to transport coronavirus vaccines at frigid temperatures around the world.
Stimulus talks in Congress are in trouble, again. Aides to Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, signaled that Republicans aren’t on board with a $908 billion bipartisan compromise, days before Congress is scheduled to adjourn.
The European Central Bank rolls out more stimulus. The bank said it would extend and expand aid programs like its $2 trillion bond-buying initiative, as officials worry that a second wave of Covid-19 cases will roil the eurozone economy. Here’s why the move is so notable.
Warnings about a no-deal Brexit are getting louder. Both Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and European Union officials suggested that the two sides may not reach a trade agreement ahead of a Sunday deadline. Meanwhile, Britain’s ports are already clogged, and it could get worse if there’s no deal.
Mastercard and Visa cut ties to Pornhub. The payments companies have banned the use of their cards on the pornography website, after The Times’s Nick Kristof reported that the platform hosted videos of child abuse and rape.
How to rediscover the arka of bipartisan deal making
The latest entry in our DealBook D.C. Policy Project series takes on a particularly topical subject: How to unblock a gridlocked Congress.
We convened a panel of experts including Representative Susan Brooks, Republican of Indiana; Josh Gottheimer, Democrat of New Jersey; Rohit Kumar of PwC, who was previously the deputy chief of staff to Senator Mitch McConnell; and other Washington insiders.
As lawmakers continue to grapple over another pandemic stimulus package, they acknowledged to the moderator, The Times’s Julie Hirschfeld Davis, that a compromise may seem unlikely. However, “members of Congress, one on one, are pretty friendly and actually have a lot in common,” Ms. Brooks said. When rank-and-file members spend more time together, “you can actually accomplish things,” Mr. Gottheimer added. But since moderation has become “a dirty word” in this hyperpartisan environment, there is no “silver bullet” to fix the systemic, cultural constraints on deal making, Mr. Rohit noted.
???? Check out the debate, including görüntü clips of key exchanges.
Speaking of Washington, in case you missed it, yesterday we published the account of our debate on how to regulate Big Tech, led by The Times’s Katie Benner.
The sometimes-heated discussion touched on tensions between D.C. and Silicon Valley (the Columbia law professor Lina Khan dismissed the notion that Congress only wants to break companies up) to privacy rights (Makan Delrahim, the Justice Department’s antitrust chief, said, “there needs to be some standard-setting”). By the end, the technologist Alex Stamos accused critics of “nonempirical, fuzzy, hand-waving stuff.”
????Catch up on the discussion, which pairs nicely with all the news about Facebook’s antitrust battles.
In the papers
Some of the academic research that caught our eye this week, summarized in one sentence:
Companies strive to motivate and retain their employees, but it’s a costly sorun when they succeed only at the latter. (Tiffany Darabi, Brooks Holtom, Zhike Lei and Cody Reeves)
Student-loan forgiveness would benefit the rich far more than the poor. (Sylvain Catherine and Constantine Yannelis)
A Republican-controlled Congress is better for big companies, a Democratic-run one better for small companies — and a divided chamber is the worst of all for the economy. (Joshua Livnat, Amir Rubin and Dan Segal)
Carnegie Hall stands by Robert Smith
At the DealBook Online Summit last month, Vista Equity’s Robert Smith told Andrew he hoped his $140 million settlement with the Justice Department over tax fraud wouldn’t affect his philanthropic efforts, such as paying the student debt of an entire class at Morehouse College.
“I’ve made right with the government,” Mr. Smith said. “Now I’m absolutely committed to continuing my important work.” One of the billionaire’s philanthropic efforts is Carnegie Hall, where he has been chairman since 2016. The Times spoke to board members at the musical institution and other interested observers, and here’s what some of them said:
“I am a huge fan. He has done an outstanding job leading Carnegie Hall.” — Sandy Weill, the former Citigroup chief and member of Carnegie’s board who served as its chairman for 29 years.
“Who hasn’t made a mistake in their life? You deal with it in a really good way and move on.” — Clive Gillinson, Carnegie’s long-serving executive and artistic director.
“Carnegie is wearing a self-imposed blindfold (probably in the hopes of future donations) when they ignore this.” — John Coffee Jr., a professor at Columbia Law School who specializes in corporate governance.
“It’s 1996 all over again, and this time we are on the brink of dramatic breakthroughs on how value exchange and economic activity can be organized and executed around the world.”
— Jeremy Allaire, the C.E.O. of the digital currency company Circle, in a letter to senior staff members at the Treasury Department, warning that rumored rules for self-hosted wallets would take a “sledgehammer” to the nascent industry.
Weekend reading: In software dust we trust
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin recently received a letter from members of Congress responding to rumors of “burdensome” disclosure rules for cryptocurrency operators. Crypto execs (see above) and others weighed in with similar concerns. Brian Armstrong, the founder of the digital currency exchange Coinbase, retweeted these letters and compared the potential rules to the internet’s early days, when “there were people who called for it to be regulated like the phone companies. Thank goodness they didn’t.”
“Kings of Crypto,” a new book by Jeff John Roberts, a reporter at Fortune, documents the Coinbase chief’s quest to legitimize “outlaw currency.” Mr. Roberts spoke with DealBook about the future of crypto and whether it really is at risk from onerous regulation.
Bitcoin recently hit a new high. So is it all up from here?
We’ve seen this movie a few times. There’s a hangover and a correction, but each time won’t be as dramatic as the last one. Institutional money is coming in from hedge funds, and places like Harvard and Princeton. There’s some froth, but millennials seem to love it.
Does Bitcoin have any actual value?
Why is gold worth something? It’s a metal that conducts heat and makes pretty jewelry, but we think it’s valuable because we know everyone around the world thinks it’s valuable. There’s consensus. Bitcoin is reaching a tipping point: Governments, institutions, consumers and also criminals — criminals love Bitcoin! It’s just software dust, but as more people own it, the more its value is affirmed. The network has proved itself. Even if it’s not based on anything rational, it’s valuable.
So, what’s with the Treasury, and what should crypto supporters expect from the new administration?
It’s getting harder to ignore the underlying political question about what will be the world’s next reserve currency. By putting out a digital yuan, China put pressure on the U.S. The Treasury faces a dilemma. They can lose control and digital currency could become a threat to the dollar. You need regulation, but what type? U.S. regulators would be smart not to undermine innovators. President Trump thundered against crypto. Biden is not actively hostile to it. But with everything on their plate, it’s not going to be a priority for the next administration.
THE SPEED READ
Bankers and investors are preparing for the huge wave of corporate bond sales to end next year. (WSJ)
Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s oil giant, has hired Moelis & Company to advise on billions of dollars’ worth of asset sales. (Bloomberg)
It has been a really, really bad year for short sellers. (Bloomberg)
Politics and policy
Lawmakers rebuked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a hearing, questioning whether he politicized the management of billions in stimulus funds. (NYT)
President-elect Joe Biden is increasingly at odds with Democratic lawmakers over how much student debt the government should forgive. (NYT)
Disney unveiled a slew of new movies and shows — including multiple “Star Wars” and Marvel projects — to supercharge its Disney+ streaming service. (NYT)
Other studios are unlikely to follow WarnerMedia’s divisive plan to release movies simultaneously on streaming services and theaters. (CNBC)
Best of the rest
Big U.S. companies, led by Merck and IBM, pledged to hire one million Black workers over the next decade. (NYT)
“Is Exxon a Survivor?” (NYT)
Gary Cohn, Goldman Sachs’s former president, refuses to return $10 million in hisse to the firm over the 1MDB scandal, saying he plans to donate the money to charity instead. (Bloomberg)
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Source: The New York Times