COVID-19

Airbnb is cutting around 25% of its global workforce

David Brancaccio, Nova Safo, and Alex Schroeder May 6, 2020
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Nearly 1,900 people are going to lose their jobs. Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED25
COVID-19

Airbnb is cutting around 25% of its global workforce

David Brancaccio, Nova Safo, and Alex Schroeder May 6, 2020
Heard on:
Nearly 1,900 people are going to lose their jobs. Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED25
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Airbnb says it’s letting go a quarter of its global workforce and refocusing its business priorities. The short-term property rental company expects its revenues will be cut by at least half this year, given the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marketplace’s Nova Safo has followed the numbers on this story.

“Nearly 1,900 people will lose their job,” he told “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio. “We don’t know how that breaks down by country. The company operates in two dozen countries.”

Affected employees in the U.S. and Canada were informed of the cuts Tuesday. Co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky said in an all-staff memo that Airbnb must refocus for a post-pandemic travel industry that will be different than what it was before the coronavirus.

Airbnb had been investing in things like bringing hotels onto its platform, more high-end properties. It was also making efforts in transportation, looking at flights, potentially. Some of those initiatives are now on pause or being scaled back.

This is a wrenching reversal of fortune for a company that’s been valued at tens of billions of dollars, and was planning sell its stock to the public this year. It’s also been a nightmare for people depending on money from visitors paying to stay at their places.

In terms of how this affects the travel industry more widely, Makarand Mody, professor of hospitality marketing at the Boston University School of Hospitality Administration, says this could be an opportunity for Airbnb’s competitors.

“Across the travel industry, that might in a sense roll back the years and allow some of the other players in the travel industry to really double down in some of the things that they did well,” Mody said.

He thinks there may be more hotel consolidations, because boutiques that were relying on Airbnb will now get gobbled up by big chains.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

How long will it be until the economy is back to normal?

It feels like things are getting better, more and more people getting vaccinated, more businesses opening, but we’re not entirely out of the woods. To illustrate: two recent pieces of news from the Centers for Disease Control. Item 1: The CDC is extending its tenant eviction moratorium to June 30. Item 2: The cruise industry didn’t get what it wanted — restrictions on sailing from U.S. ports will stay in place until November. Very different issues with different stakes, but both point to the fact that the CDC thinks we still have a ways to go before the pandemic is over, according to Dr. Philip Landrigan, who used to work at the CDC and now teaches at Boston College.

How are those COVID relief payments affecting consumers?

Payments started going out within days of President Joe Biden signing the American Rescue Plan, and that’s been a big shot in the arm for consumers, said John Leer at Morning Consult, which polls Americans every day. “Consumer confidence is really on a tear. They are growing more confident at a faster rate than they have following the prior two stimulus packages.” Leer said this time around the checks are bigger and they’re getting out faster. Now, rising confidence is likely to spark more consumer spending. But Lisa Rowan at Forbes Advisor said it’s not clear how much or how fast.

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