Airbnb sets up endowment, council for hosts ahead of IPO

Airbnb is setting up an endowment fund to support its hosts as part of its upcoming public stock offering

Airbnb is setting up an endowment fund to support its 4 million hosts as part of its upcoming initial public offering.

The San Francisco-based home-sharing company said it will set aside 9.2 million shares for the endowment, which will start funding projects when its value tops $1 billion.

Airbnb will name a 15-member host advisory board that will meet monthly with Airbnb leadership and decide which projects to fund. The company said its initial board, which it will introduce soon, will be made up of leaders from the host community. Eighty-five percent will be from outside the U.S. and 55% will be women, the company said.

Board members will serve for one year. The initial board will determine the process for selecting new members in subsequent years.

Airbnb depends on its hosts for its 7 million listings worldwide. But relations have sometimes been rocky. Earlier this year, hosts revolted when Airbnb allowed guests to cancel their stays and get full refunds amid the pandemic. Airbnb later promised $250 million to hosts to help make up that shortfall. It also held listening sessions with more than 3,000 hosts worldwide.

“Your frustration made me see the gap that had grown between us,” Chesky wrote in his letter. “’We needed to get more connected to you.”

The company said the endowment is only one effort to include hosts in its upcoming IPO, which is expected before the end of this year. Airbnb wouldn’t comment on other possible plans, including rewarding hosts with shares.