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Airbnb’s CFO is leaving after clashing with CEO Brian Chesky

The fast-growing travel company has also elevated its exec Belinda Johnson to the COO role.

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky speaks onstage at ‘Introducing Trips’ Reveal at Airbnb Open LA on November 17, 2016
Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky speaks onstage at the ‘Introducing Trips’ Reveal at Airbnb Open LA on November 17, 2016
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Airbnb
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Airbnb is overhauling its executive ranks, the company announced on Thursday, parting ways with its chief financial officer, who many thought would someday shepherd the company through an IPO, and elevating a senior executive into the chief operating officer role — the No. 2 position at the company.

Laurence Tosi, a Wall Street veteran who had held the CFO role since 2015, is departing the company “to dedicate his full time and energy to his investment fund, Weston Capital Partners.”

According to a recent report in The Information, Tosi and CEO Brian Chesky had clashed over “how to balance the financial stability needed to go public with Mr. Chesky’s desire to transform Airbnb into a more diversified travel firm, investing in areas that might not yield profits for awhile.”

A person familiar with the relationship told Recode that the two had “different philosophies” over how Airbnb should grow.

Airbnb also announced the promotion of Belinda Johnson, previously the company’s chief business affairs and legal officer, to the No. 2 role of chief operating officer. She’ll add the oversight of the trust and safety, customer service and payments teams to her existing responsibilities.

Airbnb COO Belinda Johnson onstage holding notecards
Airbnb exec Belinda Johnson, who is now the company’s first chief operating officer
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Airbnb

Johnson has been at Airbnb for six years, after spending more than 11 years at Yahoo in roles including deputy general counsel.

In a blog post, Chesky said:

“As our COO, Belinda will be responsible for the systems and teams that enable our businesses to function, as well as our legal, policy and communications teams. Belinda will also be a partner to me. Belinda and I often approach things differently, and this is one of the reasons we’ve worked so well together over the years. I learn from her every day, and I’m a better leader because she is my partner.”

The changes come at a critical time for Airbnb, which now does billions of dollars in annual revenue and is seen as a sure-shot IPO candidate one day. In the blog post, the company said it is now profitable on an Ebitda basis with more than $5 billion on its balance sheet.

Chesky said the company’s IPO will not happen this year.

The in-depth Information report, which is worth a full read, said that Tosi had been gunning to take on more power at the company, either through a COO designation or by being named president of the company’s core Homes division. Obviously, neither happened.

Airbnb’s head of financial planning and analysis, Ellie Mertz, will serve as the finance chief on an interim basis while the executive search firm Crist Kolder Associates helps Airbnb hire a new CFO.

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