Airbnb COO Belinda Johnson to step down, as company struggles to fight regulatory disputes

Airbnb's chief operating officer Belinda Johnson announced on Friday that she will step down from her present post in the company in March 2020. Johnson's announcement comes at a time when the home rental platform is planning to go public.

Per a company statement Johnson will join Airbnb's board. The home rental company plans to launch its IPO sometime in early 2020.

Big loss for Airbnb

Airbnb YouTube Grab

Johnson's made her announcement via an email citing reasons of work-life balance. She said that it's difficult to "balance a successful career being a mom".

Johnson's exit as the chief executive officer is definitely going to hurt the company given that she has been with Airbnb since 2011. She was also the company's chief executive officer and co-founder Brian Chesky's first executive hire.

For Airbnb's employees, Johnson was almost like the de facto number 2, and was Chesky's most trusted lieutenants.

Tough days ahead for Airbnb

Before assuming the post of the chief operating officer, she was the chief business affairs and legal officer.

Johnson has played a key in helping Airbnb come out of a series of regulatory problems both in the past and in recent times. She had been working closely with the regulators, which has also been appreciated by Chesky.

Johnson has time and again helped the company to avoid regulatory problem. Under her leadership, the company took a different approach to deal with regulators unlike other start-ups, who have often come under regulatory scanner and hit roadblocks.

What now for Airbnb?

Airbnb Pixabay

Johnson's decision to step down from her post comes at a time when Airbnb is at a critical juncture. It's not that the company has come out of all regulatory disputes.

Airbnb has time and again courted controversy but Johnson has bailed out the company. It still faces a spate of regulatory disputes over rental rules and taxes with number of city governments.

Moreover, Johnson's exit might jeopardize the company's plans of going for an IPO as early as in the first half of 2020. Airbnb's IPO is expected to be one of the most anticipated IPOs next year. Unlike a few IPOs by start-ups like Lyft and Uber, Airbnb has been registering profits for the past couple of years.

Earlier in September the company said that it registered more than $1 billion in revenues in the second quarter of 2019.