- Airbnb CFO Dave Stephenson will transition to the newly created role of chief business officer, the short-term home rental company announced Tuesday among a number of leadership changes.
- Ellie Mertz, an 11-year alum of the San Francisco, California-based company currently serving as its VP of Finance, has been promoted to CFO, the company said. Meanwhile, Catherine Powell, Airbnb’s head of hosting, will transition to an advisory role and depart the company next year.
- The financial leadership change and the creation of the CBO position comes as Airbnb reaches an “inflection point,” Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky said in a statement included in the release. “In this critical new role, Dave will drive growth across our existing and new businesses,” Chesky said. “As we expand beyond our core, it will be paramount to have an executive dedicated to our long-term growth plans.”
In his newly-created role, Stephenson will be involved in “all aspects” of Airbnb’s strategy as the business looks to expand beyond its core, Chesky said, including driving international expansion, and leading the company’s business and corporate developments.
Stephenson will officially transition to the CBO role on Jan. 2, while Mertz will move to the CFO position following the company’s Q4 earnings call in February, an Airbnb spokesperson said.
An alum of e-commerce titan Amazon, Stephenson has served as Airbnb’s CFO since January of 2019, according to his LinkedIn profile. During his tenure in the top financial seat, Stephenson helped to usher the company through its 2020 initial public offering as well as navigate the slump in global travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
His successor, Mertz, joined Airbnb in 2013 as its head of global financial planning and analysis, before moving to her current position as VP of finance in 2019, according to her LinkedIn profile. She presently serves as a board member and audit chair for food delivery app DoorDash and online wholesale marketplace Faire. Mertz also previously logged a seven-year tenure at video streaming service Netflix where she served in a number of key executive roles including as its VP of finance and investor relations.
The leadership shifts are the latest in a series of executive swaps and appointments by the short-term home rental company. On Monday, the company announced Christoph Gorder would be joining as executive director for its independent non-profit arm, Airbnb.org. This followed a Nov. 30 announcement that Ron Klain — who previously served as chief of staff for Joseph Biden during his time as vice president and his first two years as president — would be joining as their chief legal officer.
The updates to the company’s executive team also come as the short-term rental space comes under growing scrutiny by regulators worldwide; cities including Dallas, Texas, Seattle, Washington and Airbnb’s native San Francisco have all passed laws governing short-term rental practices, according to an August report by Bloomberg. In September, a rule requiring all short-term rental hosts in New York City to register with the city’s Office of Special Enforcement to continue operating, a move Airbnb referred to as a “de facto ban” on such rentals in its guidelines for how NYC hosts can comply with the new mandate.
Supporters of the NYC rule claim that it will help to free up long-term housing within the city, alleviating the housing shortage and aiding with price stability. However, in the months after the rule has taken effect, a “black market” of short-term rentals has sprung up in the city advertised on social media and other platforms, with less than 2% of NYC’s 2,000 short-term Airbnb rentals currently registered, according to an October report by Wired.
Despite shakeups in the short-term rental market, Airbnb reported a record summer travel season for its third quarter ending Sept. 30, with nights and experiences bookings growing 14% compared to the prior year period and the company seeing encouraging growth among first-time bookers, CEO Chesky said during the company’s Nov. 1 earnings call.
The company pointed to geopolitical and macroeconomic trends as areas that would potentially impact its fourth quarter and full-year earnings, but Stephenson in his role as CFO noted that “it's hard to completely pin down the root cause of any kind of softness or volatility” at this point, he said during the third quarter earnings call in response to analyst questions.
“I think it is just broadly, what we're seeing is a little bit of softness in our overall kind of demand relative to Q3,” he said. “We call out kind of the macroeconomic and geopolitical just because that is what's, I think, driving any volatility that's out there.”
Stephenson is “clearly confident” about revenue growth for its fourth quarter hitting between 12% to 14%, and the fact that this growth remains stable with Q3 results is “really promising,” he said.
This story has been updated to correct the name of the entity to which Christoph Gorder was appointed. He was named executive director of Airbnb.org, the nonprofit arm of Airbnb.