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Airbnb to appoint female board member? Yes. IPO? Maybe

CEO Brian Chesky talks about the upcoming year.


Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky talks shop at Recode's annual tech confab.

Asa Mathat for Vox Media

Airbnb is looking to make some changes in the coming year.

CEO Brian Chesky said Wednesday that the company is planning to appoint at least one female board member this year, possibly even two. He was speaking at Recode's annual tech confab in Los Angeles.

"We are focusing our pool on people who can add diversity to the board," Chesky said.

Airbnb's board is all male and mostly white, as are the boards of most Silicon Valley companies. The percentages of women and minorities in tech are low, and the percentages in technical roles and upper management are even lower. A number of  companies, including Facebook, Lyft and Airbnb, are aiming to change that.

The board at Airbnb has six members, three of whom are founders. There's only one independent director, Ken Chenault, who was the CEO of American Express for the last 17 years and who's also on Facebook's board.

"We need to add at least two or three independent directors," Chesky said.

Airbnb's appointment of Chenault to its board appeared to be laying the groundwork for an initial public offering.  The company also named Belinda Johnson as its first chief operating officer in February.

In the past Chesky, has said the company isn't going to do an IPO anytime soon, but on Wednesday he seemed more open to the possibility. He said Airbnb will be ready for an IPO within the next year, but he doesn't know if it will actually go through with one.

"I want to make sure that it's a major benefit to the company when we do it," he said. "I have no issues with it at all whatsoever. It could happen."

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