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Latham, Simpson Thacher Book Roles on Airbnb’s $1 Billion IPO

Nov. 17, 2020, 12:15 AM

Airbnb Inc.'s long-awaited stock market debut is being aided by lawyers at Latham & Watkins and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, according to a securities filing late Monday.

Airbnb, which confidentially filed for an initial public offering in August, also disclosed the terms and size of a pending initial public offering that it hopes will raise at least $1 billion. The vacation rental marketplace expects to potentially triple that amount, raising up to $3 billion in a December stock listing on the Nasdaq exchange.

Latham corporate partners Tad Freese, Kathleen Wells, and Anthony Richmond in Menlo Park, Calif., are counseling the San Francisco-based company as it prepares to go public, according to a securities filing by Airbnb. Kevin Kennedy, a partner and founder of Simpson Thacher’s office in Palo Alto, Calif., is leading a team from the law firm advising underwriters on Airbnb’s IPO.

Legal fees and expenses related to the IPO are not yet available.

Ahead of its IPO, Airbnb has sought to mend its relationship with U.S. cities, some of which it has battled in court over short-rental regulations and tax collection concerns.

Several former Latham lawyers work in-house at Airbnb, including associate general counsel for corporate Jia Liu, lead corporate counsel Brian Savage, associate general counsel for product Derek Smith, lead product counsel Mariam Cline, lead counsel for community trust Robert Studley, and litigation counsel Eric Chen.

Airbnb also disclosed the pay package for former in-house legal chief Belinda Johnson, who in 2018 was promoted to chief operating officer, a role she relinquished earlier this year. Johnson received $13.9 million in total compensation from Airbnb in 2019, according to a summary compensation table.

Johnson’s pay last year penciled out to about $930,000 in cash and almost $13 million in stock, according to the company’s S-1 statement. She remains a member of the board of directors at Airbnb, along with Kenneth Chenault, a Harvard Law School graduate and former chairman and CEO of American Express Co.

Chenault, who serves as Airbnb’s lead director, received nearly $315,000 in total compensation from Airbnb in 2019. About $250,000 of that sum is comprised of stock awards, with the remaining $65,000 in cash.

Airbnb’s current chief legal officer, Richard Baer, hired by the company last year from Liberty Media Inc., and his predecessor, Robert Chesnut, who stepped down earlier this year as chief ethics officer at Airbnb, are not listed among the company’s five highest-paid executives for 2019.

Airbnb recently hired Mary Huser, a former chief legal and compliance officer at Plantronics Inc., as deputy general counsel for risk and regulatory and added former Google LLC vice president of legal Iris Chen as deputy general counsel for product.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at