Friday, December 5, 2008

Paul English, Kayak, Sequoia, and the Triple-Digit Club

My most recent Globe column focused on what I call the "Triple Digit Club" -- companies that have raised $100 million or more in venture capital funding.

The club includes Boston-area companies like E Ink, Kayak, A123 Systems, GreatPoint Energy, and Luminus Devices. (Kayak is the current club president, having raised $223 million.)

My favorite tidbit from the column is that Sequoia, one of the investors behind Kayak, apparently used them at the famous "RIP Good Times" presentation in October as an example of a company that already operates lean and mean. From the column:

    The entire start-up world...took notice last month when several partners of Sequoia Capital, the venture firm that funded companies like Google, PayPal, and Electronic Arts, called a meeting to warn its companies about the coming recession. The text on the opening slide? "R.I.P. Good Times." Spending cuts, the firm advised, are a must, and acquirers will gravitate to profitable companies.

    Sequoia, as it happens, is an investor in Kayak (A123Systems, too). According to [Kayak co-founder Paul] English, people who were at Sequoia's cautionary meeting say that partner Michael Moritz mentioned Kayak several times.

    "They were talking about us as a company with a lean profile," he says. "In their portfolio, we are the skinniest as far as costs." That frugal posture will be an asset if even gloomier times are ahead.

The video features English talking about his approach to hiring and firing engineers.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Does Kayak Become Unusable Without American Airlines?

American Airlines is pulling its flight listings from, the travel site based in Concord, MA and Norwalk, CT.

American, which apparently knows that I've bought tickets from the airline by clicking through from Kayak, sent me an e-mail last night. The subject was: "American Airlines Ends Relationship With Kayak."

I think this will hurt American a tiny bit, since some travelers are accustomed to starting their airfare searches at Kayak, which until now has been comprehensive.

But I think it will hurt Kayak a lot, since American is the #2 airline in terms of domestic passengers carried, and #7 in terms of international, according to Wikipedia. Kayak is really not usable without American prices in the database. As of today, Kayak doesn't show American's fares, but it does offer an "Info" link that takes you to, which then shows you the fares. Not all that useful for a comparison-shopping site...

There's no news about the change on Kayak's blog,

Kayak posted a statement on their blog, but the search results presented to travelers don't make what's going on very clear.

(Here's a Seattle Post-Intelligencer blog post about the spat.)

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Friday, December 21, 2007

SideStep, Kayak Get Over It and Get Hitched

Kayak, the "meta" travel search site based in Concord, MA and Norwalk, CT, is merging with SideStep, based in Santa Clara, CA, according to GigaOM and Kayak co-founder Paul English. From the Wall Street Journal report:

    Analysts aren't convinced the deal will greatly benefit consumers -- or Kayak. The market appears to have plateaued, says Henry Harteveldt, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc., noting that 12% to 15% of online leisure travelers use meta sites, roughly the same share as in 2006.

I wrote about the two companies two years back, when SideStep founder Brian Barth told me about some fishy meetings he'd had at General Catalyst while that firm was incubating Kayak.

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