Airbnb says no listing in 2018, CFO to leave, names first COO

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Short-term home rental service Airbnb Inc will not go public this year, the company said on Thursday, and it also announced a change in executive leadership with the loss of its chief financial officer and appointment of its first chief operating officer.

FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed people's models are seen in front of a displayed Airbnb logo in this illustration taken, June 8, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

San Francisco-based Airbnb, a service where homeowners and renters can post their house, room or apartment for rent, had been on a list of anticipated initial public offerings this year.

Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky refuted that timeline, and said in a statement that “we’re working on getting ready to go public and we will make decisions about going public on our own timetable.”

In line with a number of changes to help prepare the company for long-term growth, Airbnb promoted Belinda Johnson, who has been at the company since 2011, to COO, Chesky said. She was most recently its chief business affairs and legal officer.

Johnson’s responsibilities will include overseeing Airbnb’s legal, policy and communications teams, Chesky said. Her appointment follows the addition of Airbnb’s first independent board director, outgoing American Express CEO Ken Chenault, announced last week.

Although these changes are consistent with startups preparing to go public, Chesky said that Airbnb is “not going public in 2018.”

Airbnb also said on Thursday Chief Financial Officer, Laurence Tosi would leave the company next week to work full-time at his investment fund, Weston Capital Partners. A CFO is a critical position to have filled many months in advance of an IPO.

Airbnb has enlisted a search firm to find his replacement. Its head of financial planning, Ellie Mertz, will fill in as interim head of finance.

Founded in 2008, Airbnb is in nearly 200 countries and valued by private investors at $31 billion. The company is profitable and has a $5.5-billion balance sheet, Chesky said.

But global challenges remain for Airbnb, which has been criticized for exacerbating housing shortages in already tight markets. It has clashed with authorities in cities including New York, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris, and has been compelled in a number of cities to restrict the rental activity on its website to comply with local laws.

Reporting by Heather Somerville; Editing by Susan Thomas