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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

March 22, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Ex-Expedia team hiring, promoting new travel company

A group of former Expedia executives is dropping bigger hints about a new travel company they’re starting in Seattle.

With the buzz they’re getting so far, they won’t have to spend any of the $9.8 million they’ve raised on job ads.

Rich Barton first announced the venture with a Tweet in January, saying “Greg Slyngstad & I are cooking up a consumer internet startup. R U our founding CTO? Seeking smart, passionate team-builder.”

Barton and Slyngstad worked together on the creation of Expedia within Microsoft in the early 1990s and worked together later when it was a standalone company.

They found a CTO — former Expedia engineering boss Sunil Shah — and are now hiring software engineers and managers, including a business development director with travel and advertising experience.

After trickling out hints, the company today filed an SEC report disclosing that “NewTravelco” raised $9.8 million.

A Web site for “New Travelco” lists the team and hints at the business, without providing much detail:

“We believe it is still early days in the Internet travel revolution. The increasing power of transparency, connectivity, and mobility will continue to open new worlds to travelers and new channels for suppliers. We believe that a small, passionate team of people can effect massive change.”

Venture firms involved include General Catalyst Partners, Bellevue’s Ignition Partners and Benchmark Capital, where Barton is a partner.

Cambridge, Mass.-based General Catalyst also backed travel search site Kayak.com, where Slyngstad is a director.

You’d think another travel company would create conflicts for Slyngstad at least, but maybe the Seattle venture isn’t another way to sift through schedules and book trips. Kayak’s chief executive told travel business site Tnooz that Slyngstad will remain on its board.

The job listing for its business development director says the job involves building revenue from Google Adwords, so maybe ads are going to be more important to the company than commissions.

I wonder if it’s going to be some sort of social-sharing-community site for travelers, maybe a place to share travel videos, photos and messages from mobile devices?

Recommendation systems used by travel sites today are getting long in the tooth and don’t take advantage of users’ increasing connectivity, mobility and expectations of transparency created by YouTube and social media.

Wouldn’t be it nice if you could zoom to a location and see a live discussion of current conditions at a hotel, with pictures and video, instead of wading through the old star reviews from anonymous travelers salted with posts by unscrupulous hotel managers?

Then it would be like Zillow and Glassdoor turned to travel, aggregating user-generated content to create a destination reference and referral site for people researching their next trip.

Comments | More in | Topics: Entrepreneurs, expedia, new travelco

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