Even for hosts, it was easy to overlook an email last month with the subject line "Airbnb's Directed Share Program." That was costly, though. The email was an offer to get in on the company's initial public offering, NPR reports. Airbnb earmarked as many as 3.5 million non-voting shares, about 7% of the total, for hosts who wanted to participate, per CNBC. The IPO took place week, far exceeding the company's expectations. The number of shares offered hosts at the opening price, $68, depended on how long the host had been with Airbnb. One host in Los Angeles maxed out, at 200 shares, though his partner didn't like the idea. "I haven't ever bought a single stock in my life," Jino Cabrera tells NPR. He sold when shares hit $144, leaving him with a profit of almost $15,000 ."I was blown away," he says. His partner liked the idea better then, and they went to Vegas to celebrate.
Other hosts ignored the email or planned to get back to it. They now regret that missed opportunity. With the opening line, "Hosts like you are a foundation of our company," some recipients point out, the email didn't seem urgent. "I get a ton of spam, a ton of stuff," said Sara Shea, a host in North Carolina. She decided to get back to this one later. By the time she did, the deadline to buy shares was past. "This year has been really hard," Shea said. "So here is just another bowling pin that got knocked down by all of this." Although he's not a host, a magician in the Bay Area who works though Airbnb Experiences was invited to take part in the deal. Daniel Chan bought 200 shares, which brings him to another decision point. He could net a big payday if he sells, but the looming capital gains tax gives him an incentive to hold onto his shares. "I might sell slowly, but my wife is saying don’t sell at all," he said. (Read more Airbnb stories.)