Airbnb ducks post-Covid stimulus | Reuters

NEW YORK, May 3 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Airbnb (ABNB.O) might have more resistance than the travel industry itself. The $97 billion vacation booking platform’s post-pandemic rebound should make it more profitable than ever. Being light on assets makes it nimble, but general manager Brian Chesky took the necessary risks.

Airbnb has adapted to a world of closures and travel restrictions, as bookings have moved away from densely populated cities and refocused on national getaways rather than across borders. After falling in 2020, revenue of nearly $6 billion last year was about 25% higher than 2019. Results released on Tuesday shows that growth is gaining momentum: revenue rose 70% year over year to $1.5 billion for the quarter.

Profitability also improved, with EBITDA moving into positive territory at $229 million. This is the key. Fast-growing disruptors are often reluctant to cut costs. But Chesky has tightened Airbnb’s belt, including the difficult decision to dismiss 25% of staff. This takes Airbnb out of the danger zone of former high-flying unicorns stumbling on the transition to profitability — whether or not investors give it an upgrade. (By Jonathan Guilford)

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(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

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