Nine years after renting out its first room, Airbnb may soon reach a major milestone that will prove that the sharing economy has legs.

It is projected that, by 2020, the home-sharing startup will top more than $3.5 billion in profits before interest and taxes and depreciation, according to Fortune editor Leigh Gallagher, who is also the author of a new book, The Airbnb Story. The news comes after Bloomberg reported in January that Airbnb became profitable for the first time during the last half of 2016, and expects to maintain profitability throughout 2017.

The milestone would put the company leaps and bounds ahead of another stalwart of the sharing economy, Uber, which reportedly lost $3 billion in 2016. Sources close to the company told Gallagher that Airbnb's competitive edge lies in the fact that it's been able to keep fixed company costs down, while creating a stock pile of billions of dollars in venture capital money. All in all, they say, Airbnb's annual losses have totaled less than $300 million throughout its nine-year-history.

As 2017 gets underway, Airbnb is looking to have its hands in more parts of the travel industry. Last year, the company launched its Trips app, which is designed to help travelers book multiple elements of a trip without leaving the app.

Published on: Feb 15, 2017