Airbnb has secured a $1 billion investment from private equity firms Silver Lake and Sixth Street Partners as it seeks to weather the plunge in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The investment, which is a combination of debt and equity, increases Airbnb’s cash reserves to around $4 billion. The company had previously raised $4.6 billion and reportedly had a valuation of $35 billion, making it one of the most highly valued pre-IPO unicorns.
The additional capital “will support Airbnb’s ongoing work to invest over the long term in its community of hosts who share their homes and experiences, as well as the work to serve all stakeholders in the Airbnb community,” Airbnb said in a news release.
The travel and leisure industry has taken a pounding from the coronavirus, with Airbnb announcing last week that it was allocating $250 million to help offset losses incurred by hosts. It reportedly held a phone meeting with bankers in March to discuss extending an existing $1 billion debt facility amid the virus-driven slowdown in demand.
The company will contribute $5 million of the new private equity money to a relief fund that will provide grants worth a total of $15 million to Superhosts who rent out their own home and need help paying their rent or mortgage.
According to Skift, Airbnb is betting that “when there is a global recovery from coronavirus travelers would be more likely to seek stays at short-term rentals in less congested areas where they can better control the environment and travel with people they know instead of mixing with hotel guests.”
“While the current environment is clearly a difficult one for the hospitality industry, the desire to travel and have authentic experiences is fundamental and enduring,” Silver Lake Co-CEO and Managing Partner Egon Durban said.
“Airbnb’s diverse, global, and resilient business model is particularly well suited to prosper as the world inevitably recovers and we all get back out to experience it,” he added.
Silver Lake, one of the most high-profile tech investors, has more than $43 billion in assets under management.