Airbnb Founders, Chief Product Officer Joe Gebbia, CTO Nathan Blecharczyk and CEO Brian Chesky speak onstage during the “Introducing Trips” Reveal at Airbnb Open LA on November 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. Mike Windle/Getty Images for Airbnb

Airbnb’s founders said many likely didn’t expect the company to go public as the COVID-19 pandemic battered its business by 80% and stalled its IPO, which was reported to kick off in March.

The rental startup’s business has plunged as travel bookings declined due to the coronavirus crisis — the founders said the firm has issued over $1 billion refunds.

Airbnb filed for an initial public offering Friday.

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Airbnb’s founders said people likely didn’t expect the rental startup to go public this year as the COVID-19 pandemic battered its business by 80% and resulted in the company issuing more than $1 billion in refunds.

Airbnb was reportedly due to kick off the IPO process in March and April, which coincided with the first devastating months of the pandemic. Reports then surfaced that its IPO could be stalled until 2021. It confidentially filed to go public in September, but in its S-1 filed Monday, Airbnb officially unveiled the 12-year-old company’s IPO documents.

“When borders closed and travel stopped, our business declined by nearly 80%,” Airbnb founders Brian Chesky, Nate Blecharczyk, and Joe Gabbia wrote in a letter that accompanied the S-1. “We had to put our IPO on hold, and I don’t think many people expected us to go public this year. I know some people questioned if we’d make it at all. What has transpired since then has been our most defining period since we started Airbnb.”

The founders closed the letter, saying: “In the depths of this crisis, some people asked, ‘Is this the end of Airbnb?’ It was not the end of Airbnb. In fact, it was just the beginning. It’s still early. We invite you to come on this journey with us.”

The S-1 filing revealed the company suffered a net loss of $696.9 million during the first three quarters of 2020 but reported $2.52 billion in revenue. The pandemic has slammed Airbnb’s business, forcing the startup to lay off hundreds of employees and battering its booking revenue by 72% in Q2 amid pandemic-driven travel restrictions.

Read more: Owners of some of the quirkiest Airbnbs in the US share how their businesses have taken off and pivoted to accommodate cautious travelers looking for an escape

The company has bounced back slightly by adapting to changes in customer travel trends, like an uptick in rural and local bookings. But it still has its work cut out for it, especially as health experts predict coronavirus cases to surge in the upcoming winter.

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