Airbnb closes operations in China and removes 150,000 listings

Airbnb, a home rental company, plans to shut down its domestic operations in China, a further sign of the internet decoupling between China and much of the rest of the world.

Airbnb, which has operated in China since 2016, is pulling out of the country after struggling to compete with local “superapps” that charge lower and lower fees per night on average than in other regions, a person with knowledge of the situation said. The pandemic has compounded Airbnb’s business difficulties, the person said, as China’s “zero-Covid” policy has sent millions into strict lockdown.

Airbnb’s move highlights a growing divide between China’s internet and that of the rest of the world. Many US internet companies left China after Beijing emphasized domestic companies, exercised censorship and made other demands on companies. LinkedIn, the only remaining American social network to operate in China, withdrew from the country in October, citing a lack of success with its social media and news functions. Airbnb is the last major American internet company in China.

San Francisco-based Airbnb will continue to operate a business serving Chinese tourists traveling outside of China, the person familiar with the matter said. It will keep its Beijing office open with a few hundred employees, the person added.

As part of its retirement, Airbnb will remove about 150,000 listings in China, out of six million worldwide. Stays in the country have accounted for about 1% of Airbnb’s business in recent years, the person said.

Airbnb generated $6 billion in revenue last year, up 77% from the previous year. Like many tech companies that have gone public in recent years, it’s under pressure to turn a profit. Airbnb’s stock has fallen 34% this year amid a broader rout, even as tourism has surged and demand for travel services has increased.

CNBC earlier reported on Airbnb’s decision.

Comments are closed.