Airbnb appoints new COO as chief financial officer steps down

Airbnb is making moves for the long term. Photo credit: Getty/Gajus

Airbnb announced a shakeup to its executive team: Chief financial officer Laurence “L.T.” Tosi has stepped down from the company while longtime deputy, chief business affairs and legal officer Belinda Johnson has been promoted to COO.

Belinda Johnson. Photo credit: Airbnb

Tosi worked as CFO of Blackstone since 2008 before joining Airbnb in 2015. Recently, however, rumors of tensions between Tosi and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky surfaced as the two clashed over Chesky’s ideas and Tosi’s ambitions for the COO role. Following his departure, Tosi will devote his full time to his investment fund, Weston Capital Partners, as well as multiple external boards he sits on.

“The two and half years I’ve spent at Airbnb have been some of the most thrilling of my career,” Tosi said in a statement. “We achieved much of what I set out to accomplish when I joined. Working together with my colleagues, we have achieved incredible success: today, Airbnb is profitable, and continues to have tremendous growth opportunities in markets around the world. Our CX platform now reaches record levels of community members at the highest satisfaction levels in our history and some of the best in the industry. In payments, we continued to be the market leader in innovating new features and global processing scale. While the time is right for me to build my own business, I will miss working with the top-tier teams we have assembled and am confident that they will continue to create value for Airbnb and our community.”

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Compared to Tosi’s departure, Johnson’s promotion is less of a surprise. She joined Airbnb in 2011 from Yahoo, where she worked as deputy general counsel, and in 2015 was promoted to chief business affairs and legal officer for Airbnb.

As COO, Johnson will oversee Airbnb’s organizational structure, which is segmented into homes, lux, trips and experiences. 

“The COO is one of the most critical positions in any company. Before the holidays, I made a decision about who was right for this role and I’m incredibly excited to announce that we have appointed Belinda Johnson to be our COO,” Chesky said in a statement.

“Belinda has a track record of making Airbnb run better. She designed and scaled our policy and legal teams from just one employee to the world-class functions they are today. She takes critical functions that might be seen as constraints in other companies, and clears a path so they can become competitive advantages and facilitate the growth of the business,” Chesky continued. “Belinda also optimizes for all stakeholders. She fiercely protects our culture and she has defined the way we partner with community leaders and policymakers around the world. We’re a better company because of Belinda’s leadership.”

“From my first day at Airbnb, I have been inspired by our community and I’m honored to have this new role,” Johnson said. “As COO, it’s my job to bring the businesses, enabling teams and functions together so that the company is well run and our four businesses are set up to succeed. We want to be the world’s most innovative and most trusted travel company and to get there, we need to scale our operations and build for the long haul. As Brian has said, we are a company with an infinite time horizon, and I will work to ensure everything we do takes the long view.”

As part of the announcement, Chesky also shot down rumors of a potential Airbnb initial public offering, stating plainly that the company will not be going public in 2018.

“Our primary focus is becoming a 21st-century company and advancing our mission,” Chesky said. “We’re working on getting ready to go public and we will make decisions about going public on our own timetable.”

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