I am a week or so late (on a lot of things) to comment on the story around TripIt raising funds. As a quick reminder to those that don't know, TripIt is a a tool for combining all of the disparate booking itineraries into one and adds in a little bit of networking for flavour. I interviewed CEO Gregg Brockway here. In that interview Brockway hinted at an imminent VC round.
A week or so ago the TripIt announced a Series B of US$5.1mm on top of the Series A US$1mm from O'Reilly AlphaTech. I was about to do a simple update to my interview post when I looked closely at the entities participating in the round. O'Reilly AlphaTech are back for more and have been joined by the EuropeanFounders Fund. The big news is that Sabre Holdings have joined the round. This is noteworthy for obvious reasons - OATV and EFF are funds - but Sabre is not only an operating company, they are an operating company with significant existing only assets (Travelocity, Lastminute, IgoUgo and so much more). I was drawn to the fact that there is no quote from a Sabre executive in the story on HotelMarketing.com.
This is interesting for two reasons:
1. It is a very small investment for Sabre. Even if they put in the largest share, this is a very small deal for company that was privatised for $5 billion. It takes more than just an investment return for a multi-billion dollar travel company to spend the time needed for a $5.1mm dollar deal; and
2. Sabre is presumably an operational investor rather than a returns investor. That is Sabre is presumably looking for eventually taking operational advantage of the technology or reach or both of TripIt rather than a simple investment return. It also eliminates a lot of potential buyers. What are the chances of Expedia, Priceline, etc buying TripIt with Sabre as a shareholder?
If I read this right, Sabre would only invest if it has more than a investment return plan. If it had plans to bring TripIt into the business at one point - likely some part of the Travelocity media sections (including IgoUgo). Any readers from TripIt or Sabre care to make a comment?