Want to know what the ex-Expedia quartet at NewTravelco is up to?
After approaching Kayak with rumblings about the deal, Kayak CEO Steve Hafner confirmed the transaction.
And, Simon Breakwell, one of the founders of TravelNewco, confirmed the acquisition, too, but declined further comment, other than to say, “We’re not ready to discuss our plans.”
“Yes, we did sell Travelpost to NewTravelco,” Hafner says. Â ”We love their management team and continue to be a shareholder in the new entity.”
He didn’t provide any terms of the deal.
“I can’t say much,” Hafner says. “They have a bold vision and we’re delighted to be shareholders.”
The acquisition gives fuel to speculation that NewTravelco hopes to do combat with hotel-review website TripAdvisor, perhaps as a mobile-led play in the media/advertising business.
Travel metasearch website Kayak became the owner of TravelPost, a user-generated hotel review website, when Kayak bought SideStep in late 2007. Â SideStep had acquired TravelPost a Â year earlier.
So far, no competitor has emerged to challenge TripAdvisor in terms of scale, and perhaps NewTravelco — with its team of Greg Syngstad, Simon Breakwell, Sunil Shah and Rich Barton — dream to do so.
And, now they have Kayak as an investor and ally.
If you are making a list of companies that scratch the surface of TripAdvisor’s dominance in the review space, then TravelPost with its almost 2.5 million hotel reviews, hotel photos and travel blogs, would have to be near the top of the charts.
NewTravelco raised almost $9.8 million in financing earlier this month from 25 investors.
Incidentally, Slyngstad, president of NewTravelco and co-founder of VacationSpot.com, is on Kayak’s board of directors.
Google Maps, which has added hotel search and pricing, may be a threat to TripAdvisor, and in the long-term, NewTravelco hopes to be among the players, as well.
So, lots of questions remain:
- Will Kayak license TravelPost content in light of the acquisition?
- How will NewTravelco leverage Kayak?
- Does NewTravelco have any other acquisitions in the works, and any other strategic investors?
- What does all this mean for Kayak and online travel?
- Will NewTravelco use Kayak for search?
- If the goal is to take on TripAdvisor, why wouldn’t Kayak wage the fight on its own? Does Kayak, which is mulling an IPO, already have too much on its plate?
There are lots of questions about the TravelPost acquisition in the early, early days of NewTravelco.
Perhaps some of the questions are premature.