Airbnb wants to give its hosts shares of its company, but it won’t be easy.
On Friday, Airbnb sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requesting changes to SEC Rule 701 that would allow a new class of shareholders for workers in the gig economy. Airbnb hosts are considered contractors, much like Uber drivers or Instacart shoppers, which do not have the same benefits as full-time employees or investors.
“We believe that enabling private companies to grant hosts and other sharing
economy participants equity in the company from an earlier stage would further align incentives between such companies and their sharing economy participants to the benefit of both,” Airbnb said in its letter.
Airbnb’s request comes months after the company announced its plans to go public by June 2019.
Airbnb risks running into other hurdles even if the SEC agrees to change its regulations. The current SEC rules state private companies with more than 2,000 shareholders or 500 or more shareholders who are not U.S. accredited investors must be registered, according to TechCrunch. Most of AirBnb’s host are overseas and in 2017, it had 4 million listings.
Airbnb’s attempt to give its hosts equity is one of the first moves from a gig economy company to provide benefits to its contractors.