It's been a busy year for IPOs, culminating in the splashy debuts of two of the most highly anticipated stocks that investors couldn't wait to get their hands on: DoorDash and Airbnb. This week, both offerings priced above their expected valuation ranges and proceeded to explode out of the starting gate on their respective first trading days.


Expected Range

IPO Price

DoorDash (NYSE:DASH)

$90 to $95



$56 to $60


Data source: SEC filings.

With the promise of coronavirus vaccines on the horizon, the freshly public Wall Street darlings are about to face wildly different futures.

Hurting one while helping the other

Each company has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in completely opposite ways. The crisis utterly crushed Airbnb's business throughout much of 2020 as travel demand dried up, while stay-at-home orders and dine-in restrictions led to a boom in the food delivery industry that DoorDash leads.

Airbnb interface displayed on a laptop and smartphone

Image source: Airbnb.

Airbnb and DoorDash report the gross value of transactions that take place on their respective platforms. Airbnb's key figure is gross booking value (GBV), which represents the total dollar amount of bookings and includes the host's cut and various fees. DoorDash's comparable metric is marketplace gross order value (GOV), which similarly shows the value of all orders placed. Airbnb and DoorDash then keep a cut as their own revenue.

Here's how Airbnb's GBV and DoorDash's GOV have trended since the beginning of 2019.

Chart contrasting Airbnb GBV to DoorDash GOV

Data source: SEC filings. Chart by author.

Airbnb's GBV already started to bounce back in the third quarter, while DoorDash continued to enjoy its pandemic-driven momentum. Keep in mind that Airbnb has broader geographical exposure to the global pandemic, as it operates in nearly every country, while DoorDash primarily operates within the U.S. DoorDash has started to expand in Canada and Australia, but those international efforts are still fairly young.

Timing is everything

While both IPOs occurred within days of each other, there is important context to acknowledge here.

In late 2019, Airbnb publicly committed to going public in 2020. The company had initially targeted early 2020 but delayed the debut due to the coronavirus outbreak. Plummeting GBV would not have inspired much investor confidence, particularly before vaccine candidates had emerged, but the path to recovery is now clear. It was better for Airbnb to wait.

"COVID-19 has materially adversely affected our recent operating and financial results and is continuing to materially adversely impact our long-term operating and financial results," Airbnb writes. "However, we believe that as the world recovers from this pandemic, Airbnb will be a vital source of economic empowerment for millions of people."

Man wearing an apron handing over a red bag with a DoorDash logo on it

Image source: DoorDash.

DoorDash had confidentially filed its IPO documents in February. While the food delivery specialist also delayed its IPO, a skeptical investor might argue that DoorDash had an incentive to go public before vaccines become widely available. It's very likely that food delivery demand will fall quite a bit once people feel safe dining out again, and DoorDash probably fetched a higher valuation thanks to the impressive growth figures it was putting up. But it won't last.

"The circumstances that have accelerated the growth of our business stemming from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may not continue in the future, and we expect the growth rates in revenue, Total Orders, and Marketplace GOV to decline in future periods," according to DoorDash.

Six months from now, which is when experts say vaccines will be broadly distributed and the world will begin to return to normalcy, each of these businesses will look completely different than they do today.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.