The email began, “Hosts like you are a foundation of our company.” Tom Krones, an Airbnb host based in Austin, swiftly discarded it. That was Nov. 16.
Now, Krones says, “I am totally kicking myself.”
Since Airbnb made its public debut Thursday on the stock market, shattering expectations and doubling its offering price, regrets are piling up among hosts like Krones, who received the email last month with the subject line “Airbnb’s Directed Share Program.”
It landed in the virtual trash heap of scores of hosts who figured it was inconsequential. Others, like Krones, procrastinated the decision that could have made them thousands of dollars richer in a matter of hours.
“You know I should probably buy a couple shares just for fun,” Krones, a software engineer, remembers thinking at the time he read it. “But part of me was just like, ‘aw, I’ll do it later.'”
As is often the case, later came and went — until it became too late.
Provided by Tom Krones
In Galveston, Tex., Airbnb host Sharon Milner Honza said she was interested to buy stocks, though the email did not seem urgent at the time.
“I got one email and of course it was buried in tons of junk emails. I didn’t know it was there until after the fact,” Milner Honza said.
Sara Shea, who lives in Asheville, North Carolina, is a single mom with toddlers in preschool, a busy life in normal times and even more crushing amid a pandemic. It was not surprising, then, that the email zipped right by her, she said.
“I neglected to ever read the email in detail until the deadline had passed. I suspect they would approve me. And I would have made an investment in shares,” said Shea, who uses the income she makes as an Airbnb host to supplement her marketing job. “But I’ll consider it just another bowling pin that got knocked down by all of this.”
Plenty of hosts did not mistake the opportunity. Thousands received the invitation to by stock ahead of the initial public offering. The amount of shares each could buy depended on how long they had been Airbnb hosts. They had four days to respond.
Originally, Airbnb said the maximum amount of shares a host could buy was 275. Demand was so strong, however, that the company lowered the ceiling to 200 shares.
Airbnb host Jino Cabrera in Los Angeles did not waste any time after he was given the greenlight to purchase 200 shares. He bought all of them.
“Stocks are not my world at all. I haven’t ever bought a single stock in my life,” said Cabrera, who works in real estate. “My partner was kind of mad at me a little bit. He was like, ‘how are we going to be able to pay for that?’ And I said, ‘We’ll find ways, don’t worry about it.'”
It was a bet that paid off handsomely. When the stock price skyrocketed, Cabrera sold all of his shares at $144 apiece. He made nearly $15,000.
Courtesy of Jino Cabrera
“It was overwhelming. I was blown away,” said Cabrera. He is now celebrating in Las Vegas with his partner, an interior decorator.
On Thursday, Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky was left gobsmacked, literally unable to find any words when he was told by an anchor on Bloomberg that his company’s price more than doubled ahead of trading.
To Krones, Chesky’s astonishment provided him a bit of relief.
“It makes me feel a little bit better about the whole thing, seeing his face and being like, OK, if he didn’t know, then I can’t be expected to know either,'” Krones said.
Of course, it is cold comfort, Krones said, since he is not a dollar richer today than he was before the IPO.
The same cannot be said about Chesky, whose net worth after Airbnb went public went up about $7 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.
Airbnb declined to comment for this story.