Thursday, April 24, 2008

Run, Google, run...

Steve Hafner, CEO and co-founder of, talks to Philip Wolf, giving a level of insight into his business which would have the corporate PRs of a listed company looking nervously at their Sarbanes-Oxley compliance notes.

Kayak is on the verge of launching a travel-specific vertical ad network, giving Google a run for its money. Hafner suggested this would happen 'within 45 days'.

Kayak bought Sidestep for $175m, essentially to get the audience. But Sidestep's will become Kayak's user review site, giving tripadvisor a run for its money.

Kayak will get the range of European hotel inventory through agency partners, supplier partners and, interestingly, 'hooking into a GDS', giving the bedbanks a run for their money.

Kayak employs 58 people - 32 in technology, the balance in the commercial teams. Travelocity has 10,000. Hafner says: 'We're all web sites, so that's where we all should be innovating, but they haven't changed theirs much in the past ten years, despite their massive human capital.'

Metasearch will work in Europe because of online penetration levels and supplier fragmentation. While there are more metasearch in Europe than the US, Hafner 'isn't too impressed with their technology'.

Kayak is the suppliers' friend - it can offer better conversions than Google, while its ad network will be cheaper than Google.

Martin Cowen, chief writer, Travolution

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