Meet The Man Who Turned Priceline Into A $24 Billion Company

Jeffery Boyd

Priceline’s road to becoming a $24 billion company has been a bumpy one.

Jeffrey Boyd joined Priceline in 2000, took over as president of the company in May 2001 and was named CEO in November 2002.

By the time he was in fully in charge — he shared CEO duties with Richard Braddock before November — shares were down around $10 and hit a low of less than $2 only a month into his tenure as CEO.

So how did Boyd bring the company back from those depths to the point where it’s trading north of $500 a share today? And who is Boyd?

Jeff Boyd got his B.A. in government from St. Lawrence University, class of 1978, and a J.D. from Cornell Law in 1981. He’s now on the Board of Trustees at St. Lawrence, and he established a scholarship there with his wife. If his campaign donation filings are any indication, he lives in Greenwich, CT.

Following school, he worked as an associate at the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell and as a partner at Robinson & Cole. He then served as assistant general counsel for the money management firm Lord, Abbett and Co.

Boyd joined HMO Oxford Health Plans Inc. as executive vice president, general counsel and secretary in 1995. He worked there until 1999, when he left for Priceline. On his way out in December 1999, he netted a $1.2 million lump sum on top of that year’s $348,000 salary and $500,000 bonus. A month after resigning, he came on at Priceline as executive vice president and general counsel.

By the time Boyd joined Priceline, the company was three years old. Founded by entrepeneur Jay Walker in 1997, Priceline’s business hinged on its Name Your Own Price system, which started with airline tickets and hotel rooms but was rapidly expanding into other products.

Among the new products were groceries and gasoline. Trying to sell these with Name Your Own Price turned out to be a disaster. As the dot-com bubble burst,  Priceline’s stock plummeted, even with its trademark ad campaign featuring William Shatner.

In May 2001, Priceline fired CEO Daniel Schulman and replaced him with Richard Braddock, who had been Priceline’s chairman after a stint as CEO from 1998 to 2000. At this point, Boyd was COO, and he took over as CEO in November 2002. 

Boyd came in at a turning point. According to a BusinessWeek profile, “Priceline’s net loss more than doubled to $19 million, the company fired almost 20 per cent of its staff, and its stock price fell 73 per cent” in 2002. As CEO, Boyd knew he’d have to make a few major changes in Priceline’s business model.

The first step was to shift away from airlines, which were tanking at the time. Instead of airlines, Boyd focused on hotels, where the margins were better and the industry was incredibly receptive to Priceline.

Second, Priceline expanded aggressively in Europe, then Asia, buying up travel sites and courting independent hotels. Now, international operations make up 82% of Priceline’s operating income.

These changes, plus the revival of William Shatner’s Priceline ads, have helped create the $24 billion company.