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Airbnb IPO Uncertain As CFO Leaves

Airbnb

Amid tensions and a shakeup among executives, Airbnb chief financial officer (CFO) Lawrence Tosi has departed the company — and left behind uncertainty over its potential initial public offering (IPO).

Tosi announced his departure after he learned Airbnb’s co-founder, Brian Chesky, would name Belinda Johnson as its new chief operating officer (COO), Bloomberg reported. He reportedly wanted the role and has recently butted heads with Chesky, according to people familiar with the situation. One of the most visible Wall Street executives before joining the company in 2015, Tosi previously served as CFO at the Blackstone Group.

“The two and half years I’ve spent at Airbnb have been some of the most thrilling of my career,” he said in a statement. “We achieved much of what I set out to accomplish when I joined.”

The situation is unusual for Airbnb. Chesky has presented it as a generally drama-free company, one he grew from a startup to a $31 billion enterprise. The company has been profitable since 2017, thanks to Tosi’s financial discipline.

Airbnb announced Johnson’s appointment on Thursday (Feb. 1). The company’s chief business affairs and legal officer, she previously leading initiatives to work with local governments. Before arriving at Airbnb, Johnson served as general counsel at both Yahoo and Broadcast.com.

Amid news of Tosi's departure this week, Airbnb announced in a blog post that it is naming Ken Chenault, chief executive officer of American Express, to its board of directors. In an open letter, Chesky explained the company is built on trust, and that Chenault has built “one of the most successful trust-based companies in the world” at American Express — one that has “endured” and “innovated” for close to 168 years.

According to a report in TechCrunch, Chenault is the first independent board member at Airbnb. The company will announce its plans to, as he put it, “empower a host-led world with some substantial improvements to our service that set us up for an infinite time horizon” on Feb. 22.

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