This may become the year of the Unicorn. Unicorns are privately held companies valued at over $1 billion, and many of these companies will be preparing IPO offerings.
Among the most compelling Unicorns is Airbnb. The company is a leader of the sharing economy.
At its current valuation, Airbnb is the third most expensive Unicorn, valued at $25.5 billion after its latest round of funding. It is behind only Xiaomi and Uber. The company's platform allows users to rent their homes and apartments, often for short periods.
Airbnb has pioneered what is known as the alternative accommodations space. It is an estimated $100 billion market of which the company controls a quarter. It operates in more than 190 countries.
It has taken business from major hotel companies by expanding options for travelers and renters. This has affected hotel stocks by lowering their occupancy rates.
Share prices for Starwood Hotels, Marriott International, Hilton, and Hyatt have all declined in the last year while Airbnb grew its business. Marriott is currently in the process of acquiring Starwood hotels for $12.2B, at least partly to fend off Airbnb. Expect more M&A activity within the industry as hotel giants adapt to the changing market.