6 years ago

Oyster gets $10M in funding and starring role in Travel Channel

Oyster.com, which offers journalist-written reviews and hotel booking, took in more than $10 million in a Series B funding round from the Travel Channel and previous investor Bain Capital.

Some $7.5 million in that funding reportedly came from the Travel Channel, which takes a minority stake in Oyster. Founded in 2008, Oyster.com’s total funding to date now stands at $18.5 million.

Elie Seidman, Oyster.com co-founder and CEO, says the funding means that the company will expand its hotel coverage into Latin America, South America and Europe, and will benefit from the Travel Channel’s “promotion of Oyster’s expert brand” on TV and online.

Under the terms of the deal, Oyster will produce exclusive content for the Travel Channel, which is available in 96 million U.S. homes on cable and its HD simulcast is distributed to more than 35 million viewers.

Oyster and the Travel Channel noted in announcing the “strategic investment” that it “represents Travel Channel’s excursion into the expanding online travel transaction territory.”

In addition to professionally written hotel reviews, Oyster.com enables consumer to book hotels much like an online travel agency.

The Travel Channel website doesn’t currently handle hotel bookings, but will get that capability through the Oyster partnership.

Seidman argues that it is “critically important” for media companies such as Oyster to offer transactional capabilities for consumers.

Scripps Networks Interactive is manager and general partner of the Travel Channel.

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Dennis Schaal

About the Writer :: Dennis Schaal

Dennis Schaal was North American editor for Tnooz.



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  1. Pete

    “Then Oyster both to become a pure play e-commerce company – that business model is proving to be unsuccessful.”

    Looks like recently Oyster.com has now given up on becoming a booking site and is going back to the affiliate model.

  2. Sam

    They might want to add Chicago before they start talking about expanding to Latin America.

  3. Pete

    Oyster originally intended to be a affiliate business – driving bookings to expedia, orbitz, travelocity, etc – that business model failed.

    Then Oyster tried being a media business – selling their ad space to marketers and ad networks – that business model failed.

    Then Oyster both to become a pure play e-commerce company – that business model is proving to be unsuccessful.

    Perhaps this last effort will be fruitful. Only time will tell.

  4. Peter

    Seems like an odd choice for the Travel Channel. Why not just invest that money in creating content on their own site instead of driving traffic to a third party site? Gawker has kept pretty good tabs on Oyster, and by all accounts it’s a pretty mismanaged company with little regard for its staff. I doubt Oyster will ever turn a profit, and to this point I doubt they have been able to generate any revenue. Definitely a curious decision. The Travel Channel should have done more research before making this investment.

  5. Guillaume

    Wow quite a few negative comments here.

    Let me start by saying congratulations to Elie to raie a serie B of funding with the same investor Bain Capital.

    Clearly Bain Capital sees something in Oyster that maybe we don’t see.

    It sounds to me that Oyster has given up on being the next hotel review site and instead is focusing on quality content to distribute / sell to other channels like the Travel Channel.

    I am not so sure about the business model. It sounds to me producing content and distributing it is always very expensive with thin margins.

  6. Stuart

    So a quick glance at their site reveals they’re currently covering 15 destinations (not countries) and they achieved that with US$8.5m in funding and a bucketload of press. Strikes me they’ve struck on an incredibly inefficient model to create a booking site, that, as others have already pointed out, next to nobody uses.

    Good luck to all involved.

  7. Oz Har Adir

    Grant, first off – its a good product. Not so many out there are.
    Secondly, it reads quite clearly that the travel channel is getting a content production company, which is exactly what Oyster does well.
    I don’t know how well it does in terms of sales/visitors (though the lack of Google trends data probably means not widely well) – but its hard to agree that they can product good content.

    With the travel channel they can and should expand towards professional video production, and if you ask me: towards distributing its valuable content to other booking sites. I know I’d love to see some professional review added to the likes of Hotelscombined and Oyster could fill the void.

  8. Paul

    That’s a lot of cask for a site that opened up calling itself “the Tripadvisor killer” and then fired 70% of its staff a year after.

    Now producing content for the travel channel? that could be good for the name at least, because like the previous person commented, nobody uses Oyster.

  9. grant

    so, what does the travel channel get out of this? a booking site that nobody knows about and nobody uses? hotel reviews that are over two years old? nice work.


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