Tuesday, November 07, 2006

More plans for Planit

More details from the SMH on Webjets plans for PlanIt. I first discussed it here. Launch target is April. Plans to invest $1mm.


Anonymous said...

Yes it is interesting to notice this but honestly Australia is a small market and a $1m spend will take long time to produce ROI?

what do you think ?

Tim Hughes said...

I like the idea. It is creative and speaks to the ways in which people are looking for interactive experiences around travel. The challenge (and this is where your ROI point is correct) is all about execution - how do they build scale? For example - Sidestep just bought Travelpost who have "500,000 reviews, photos and blogs". Planit is starting from scratch, with distribution assistance only from an Australian based company. Let's give Webjet the benefit of the doubt here as the idea is right but let's also leave them (and their shareholders) with a big warning about how important scale is in a UGC/social networking site. They will have to get the planning, execution and marketing not just right but near perfect.

Anonymous said...

Both points are interesting & both points are valid, great idea as social third party reviews are always better than PR speak.

Simple, why dont they just license a bigger players IT, eg www.Igougo.com, recently purchased for $600m. Started 5 years ago in a NYC appartment. they are looking for ASPAC JV's.

Same effect, bigger pool of people and best off all, you get change from $1m

Tim Hughes said...

Thanks for the good comment. I agree that as part of their planning for this project they should consider using the scale built by another network. They could do this through a JV or through licensing in the content. They need a plan that says within gives them 100,000 pieces of valuable content fast. If they can't get that level of scale within a year through organic then the plan is flawed. 100k may seem like an arbitrary number (because it is) but it provides a great test for the business plan.

Sam Daams said...

I realize I'm quite late to comment on this, but where does the $600 m number come from for the purchase of Igougo? As far as I know the number wasn't made public and in all honesty, it seems steep, especially since the sale was back in 2005 and prices weren't what they are today. At that price, that would put igougo at over 1/3 the price of YouTube and let's be honest, a stretch by any estimates.

I'd guess more around the 60m mark or under; although it's still a lot of money :)

Tim Hughes said...

Agree that the $600mm number sounds high but I have not sources to confirm what the right number is. Anon - if you are out there somewhere can you give us some basis behind your number?

Sam Daams said...

Hmm, I didn't get notification of your comment Tim?! I did a bit of research and here are two articles that I think definitely put the 600 million number to rest. More likely under 10....

From Sabre Holdings Q4 earnings report (http://internet.seekingalpha.com/article/25821):
" As a reminder, we consolidated the IgoUgo business into Travelocity during the third quarter, which put a $4 million drag on Travelocity operating income for the year. "

From a google groups thread (well argumented, but long URL - http://groups.google.com/group/misc.business.consulting/browse_thread/thread/b0049636fe6d592c/a52645740750130f )
" I know recently IAC acquired Tripadvisor and sometime last
> year Sabre Holdings acquired IgoUgo.
> I posted a couple of weeks ago asking about any details on
> the Tripadvisor deal and the answer was really fascinating.
> Any ideas about how IgoUgo was evaluated and how much
> it was acquired for?

First of all, make it a habit to research SEC filings whenever you have
a question concerning finances of a publicly traded company. If it's
anywhere, it's in the company's annual report (form 10-K).

In this case, however, this approach doesn't quite work; Sabre's 2005
10-K lists two acquisitions in 2005, SynXis ($41 million) and
lastminute.com ($1.2 billion). This probably means that whatever Sabre
paid for IgoUgo was immaterial (accounting word for "too small to
mention"). Sabre's 2005 10-K also lists acquisitions made in 2004 and
2003; the smallest acquisition mentioned, that of Sweden-based RM
Rocade in 2004, is $15 million. So my guess would be that IgoUgo was
acquired for significantly less than $10 million.

Jim Donnelly and Tony Cheng, IgoUgo founders, had this to say on the

...over the past few years we've tossed around many
big ideas for IgoUgo but lacked the resources to
implement them. With the financial backing of Sabre,
however, IgoUgo.com promises to grow into the site
we've always known it could be. This acquisition affords
us not only access to Sabre's extensive distribution
channels and content sources, but also the funds to
pursue longtime goals like faster site performance and
the development of new kinds of content.


Note that site performance is cited a problem that couldn't be solved
by any means other than acquisition by Sabre, which probably means that
prior to the acquisition IgoUgo was growing out of its existing
Internet infrastructure, but couldn't afford an uprgade... Not a good
position to be in when negotiating a sale, and another sign of
relatively low purchase price...

Second, valuation of a growing company is a complicated exercise.
Structuring an aquisition is even more complicated. Very few people
will tell you any details, especially since pre-acquisition discussions
are usually covered by confidentiality agreements."

Hope the comment comes through looking ok.