Kayak: Unlike Some Companies, We Don't Have to Go Public

How’s this for a little spin: ‘Some companies have no choice but to move forward into … unsettled markets’.

That’s what Kayak CEO Robert Birge tells the Wall Street Journal today. It comes as GrouponAngie’s List and others (including Clovis Oncology) have gone public, while Kayak has been grounded following its IPO filing almost exactly a year ago. This year, the company may (or may not) be pulling its IPO completely.

Kayak, which makes money by sending ‘leads’ to the likes of Expedia and Orbitz that convert, is backed bySequoia Capital and General Catalyst Partners.

Of course, the IPO market has been tough through the second half of 2011, and no IPO has been a sure thing. The sceptics were loud even ahead of the Groupon IPO (and some would say for good reason). The smart move may very well have been to stay out of the public capital markets for now.

That said, a Kayak competitor may still be taking the plunge before the end of the year. TripAdvisor is set to be spun off from Expedia and hasn’t indicated that it’s changing course.

Meanwhile, waiting may have brought competitive pressures that could complicate a future flotation. The acquisition of ITA Software by Google does change the landscape a bit, though Birge tells WSJ: ‘ITA is important, but it’s only one data source” used by Kayak’.

Now, it’s not all doom and gloom for the online travel site. Kayak was home to 443 mn travel searches in the first half of the year, up 49 per cent YOY. Revenue for the same period was up 36 per cent YOY to $109.4 mn, even though it’s a bit slower than the H1 2010 YOY growth rate of 51 per cent.

What’s next? It’s hard to say. The Kayak C-suite is sending mixed messages about whether it will ring that celebratory opening bell, and the year is drawing to a close.

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Source: WSJ

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