HotelTonight buys PrimaTable in talent acquisition of ex-Googlers
Today HotelTonight, a builder of mobile apps for booking boutique hotels at the last-minute, announced its first acquisition. It has taken over PrimaTable, a data-savvy restaurant booking app similar to OpenTable.
No, HotelTonight isn’t going into the restaurant business.
It says this is a talent acquisition, mainly to put PrimaTable’s lead data scientists to work on optimizing its last-minute yield-management for luxury hotels.
Jamie Davidson becomes a vice president of product, overseeing the road map. Prior to co-founding PrimaTable, he was on staff at Google, helping to optimize the display algorithm of the search giant.
Colin Zima becomes the lead data scientist. Before co-founding PrimaTable, Zima spent four years working at Google on its search ranking algorithms.
HotelTonight’s investors introduced Davidson and Zima to the startup’s founders and encouraged the deal, which went through in September.
Last week PrimaTable’s two founders joined HotelTonight’s team.
Neither company would disclose the financial details of the transaction.
PrimaTable aimed to help restaurants in San Francisco and New York City optimize revenue and better manage their scarce table resources.
HotelTonight will incorporate this model of a platform into its own yield management system.
“We’re not on a buying spree and we’re not looking to acquire companies to run. But we may be looking at talent acquisitions that are tactical and fill particular gaps in what we need….Products for restaurants and hotels are similar: fixed cost products that are perishable and experience variable demand. These are two very smart individuals who have given a lot of thought to the dynamics behind such products….This will bring our apps one big step closer to perfecting the first ever real-time commerce platform to power the mobile generation.”
The first changes to the back end of the site will begin to be introduced within a few weeks’ time, says Shank, though consumers won’t notice any aesthetic difference to the site.
Unlike Foursquare, which has just added OpenTable as a booking tool, HotelTonight is staying focused on hotel booking. Says Shank:
“We’re in a good vertical with hotels. We’re called HotelTonight for a reason, and hotels are what we’re focused on.”
A long dance
Shank says he was insulated from the transaction team for procedural integrity.
A key concern of the transaction team was whether the new hires would be genuinely interested in HotelTonight and be committed to working for the company for the long haul, or if they were — like many entrepreneurs — go-it-alone types.
Part of the vetting process was speaking with people in the industry who had worked with the PrimaTable team.
It’s only been 15 months since HotelTonight moved in to its offices with five workers, and now it has about 50 workers and will shortly need new space.
HotelTonight touts the statistics that “same-day hotel bookings are already a $15 billion domestic business” and that it has developed the “world’s fastest-growing hotel booking app” to take advantage of the market.
Sean O’Neill is a New Jersey-based reporter for Tnooz. He is also a daily contributor of consumer news to LonelyPlanet.com.
He used to work for BBC Travel, BudgetTravel.com, and Kiplinger's, and used to live in London, New York City, and Washington, DC.