Kayak buys German travel search site Swoodoo

Kayak has made its first major acquisition in two and a half years by snapping up German metasearch site Swoodoo for an undisclosed fee.

Kayak intends on running the two companies as separate entities but will “integrate technology best practices” between the pair over the coming months.

The deal sees Swoodoo chief executive Christian Saller take on the additional role of managing director for Kayak in Germany. The senior management team at Swoodoo will also take responsibility for both brands.

Kayak CEO Steve Hafner says:

“On many metrics, Swoodoo has been outperforming us in Germany. We’re glad to now have their team on our side of the table. This acquisition gives us a clear leadership position in Europe’s second largest online travel market.”

Deal rhetoric aside, Kayak’s move perhaps signifies that it is intends taking Europe seriously again after a low-key start in terms of traffic and the well known falling out and subsequent exit of its former European managing director Faisal Galaria.

Chief marketing officer Robert Birge says Europe is a “big focus” for the company and it will look to grow in markets elsewhere around the continent by either supporting its existing marketing efforts or through other acquisitions.

Ex-Skype executive Galaria was appointed as managing director for Kayak’s businesses outside the US in September 2008, but left under a cloud just nine months later in April 2009.

At the time it was understood that Galaria and other senior management in the US had disagreed over the strategy needed to build the Kayak business in Europe, a continent with challenges Hafner et al had not faced when creating the business in the US.

The Swoodoo deal is the first significant step on the acquisition trail for Kayak since it bought rival US metasearch site Sidestep in late-2007.

It recently offloaded the Travelpost user review site to the Expedia alumni startup NewTravelco.

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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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  5. steve sherlock

    I have noted previously that kayak did not own kayak.de which may have played a part.

    probably a good move – i can see the advantage of taking a potential competitor out, i wondered whether swoodoo were ever going to become a “kayak” in the german market though, but maybe im not that familiar with their progress.

    though i do like their trending graph, which bing travel and some others are honing in on aswell. though apart from the engagement of this function im not convinced that people change their travel plans much at that stage (more than a day or two either way).

    one thought did come to mind with this acquisition, is that in my view seems kayak are looking very much through your own ‘mind set’ as opposed to what could be? (i.e. looking only at travel meta search) Is it really the future?

    so in a way its sort of looking one step ahead as opposed to further down the track. but then again when you are a big company and moving towards an IPO and wanting to ward off Google, then maybe you gotta make these sorts of acquisitions.. 😉


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