8 years ago

Expedia alumni Rich Barton, Simon Breakwell, Greg Slyngstad and others funded for travel startup

barton-breakwell-slyngstadThe mystery surrounding the startup fronted by former-Expedia chief executive and president Rich Barton is starting to unravel with more old pals joining the team and a funding round secured.

A key issue following Barton around for months is now also finally unveiled with news that the startup will be in the travel industry – at least if its working title is to be believed.

Barton and Greg Slyngstad, until now the only other publicly named person on the team and a former-general manager at Expedia until 2002, were recently joined by Simon Breakwell, ex-president of Expedia in Europe who left in 2006.

A fourth member of the founding team is Sunil Shah. Barton and Slyngstad recently confirmed they were looking for a CTO and Shah, another Microsoft and then Expedia technical whizz, would fit the bill.

Barton has spoken publicly yet only briefly about the startup. This week Barton and Breakwell have all gone off the radar and not returned any messages enquiring about the company.

However, Slyngstad responded with a brief note:

“We’re confirming that we closed on our Series A funding but not saying much else until we have a bit more to show. We are temporarily calling ourselves New Travelco.”

The Series A founding round for the business was secured on March 5, according to a message on Twitter from Slyngstad.

With a founding team featuring some of the leading lights from the early days of Expedia in the US and elsewhere (Breakwell is credited with its success in Europe), attention will now turn to its business and strategy.

But given the high profile and experience of the founders, speculation about its possible area of focus is extremely varied.

There were rumours at ITB in Berlin last week that the quartet may be developing something in the metasearch hotel sphere.

But in addition, Barton is co-founder and chairman of Glassdoor.com, which makes some think that reviews and user-generated content could be part of the mix.

Interestingly the founders still have other matters to attend to on their books.

Barton is (and has confirmed he will remain) chief executive of property site Zillow.com; Slyngstad is a board member at metasearch engine Kayak; Breakwell is an ecommerce consultant for European tour operator Thomas Cook; and Shah, according to LinkedIn, is in the employ of Disney Interactive Media Group.

Kayak CEO Steve Hafner says he believes Slyngstad will remain on his board of directors – detail which potentially rules out a metasearch play.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  6. Stephan Ekbergh

    Its gotta be Mobile.

    Why invest in the online travel space today?
    If I were to start all over again in 2010 and didnt have any legacy to bother with I´d take the best out of the web and make a killer app/brand for mobile.

    So why not a stripped down version of Expedia with an updated business model ( gee, I dont know why it sounds like Kayaks mobile business )

  7. Jonathan Alford

    Dennis, I agree, “blown apart” may be a bit dramatic with the resources TripAdvisor has available.

    On the other hand, there are some impressive mobile applications gaining traction that aren’t targeted at travel/hotels specifically, but could easily become relevant.

    One of the things I’m interested in watching is that TA gets a substantial traffic from paid keyphrase investment and the SEO benefit of its huge content base, but in the mobile space those advantages don’t exist meaningfully.

    In a sense, the playing field is leveled somewhat, perhaps creating opportunity for a newer mobile / web player to emerge.

  8. Dennis Schaal

    Dennis Schaal

    Jonathan: Hopefully these guys aren’t going through the motions just to replicate an existing product.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t underestimate TripAdvisor. It will be awhile before it is blown apart.

  9. uberVU - social comments

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  10. NewTravelco - publicity and hiring begins, other team member revealed | Tnooz

    […] Now the lid is partially open on the Expedia alumni startup, some other details have started to emerge via the launch of a project site under the name NewTravelco.com. […]

  11. Jonathan Alford

    There’s been a lack of real innovation in travel with some occasional rays of sunshine, so hopefully we’ll see a brighter beacon of vision out of this!

    The mobile-based footstreaming, social connectivity, and merchant/consumer connection capability of great products like Whrrl (whrrl.com) could frankly blow TripAdvisor apart, and create booking opportunity for hotels that partner with it (or others).

    On the flip side, airlines have now for some reason awarded Aircell a virtual monopoly on WiFi service, which can easily stifle consumer-experience creativity (especially with so much opportunity in digital media) and the OTA’s are resembling the commoditization of Walmart, Kmart, and Target even more, so this will be interesting to watch!

  12. Dennis Schaal

    Dennis Schaal

    Joe: Yes, there is no reason for them to build another run of the mill travel agency or to build another TripAdvisor, which has a decade-old headstart on user hotel reviews.

    Odds are the gang has something special in mind.

  13. Joe Buhler

    Kevin & Dennis: I have a lot of respect for these guys and it wouldn’t surprise me, if it was an innovative “next-gen” kind of thing. Otherwise why get back in the game? As we all know, from consumer opinions expressed repeatedly, an improved planning and buying experience is long overdue. They might address that.

  14. Dennis Schaal

    Dennis Schaal

    Joe: I heard someone mention something about a “next-generation travel agency.” hmmmm….wonder what that means.

  15. Joe Buhler

    Excitement and suspense is building as the old boys are back in the game. New that once bitten by the travel bug it’s near impossible to leave, just didn’t know this would apply for the online pioneers as well. Will be interesting to see who their new venture will impact the most in the industry.

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @joe – indeed. clearly they’ve seen a margin/opportunity somewhere to get involved again. given their profile they wouldn’t be doing something half-baked.


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