Priceline launches new venture to invest in startups beyond travel


Dec 18, 2012 12:56 am

Skift Take

Priceline will have to compete with other more established strategic arms and venture firms, and may soon realize it will need a more organized effort to get a quality deal flow.

— Rafat Ali

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Will Priceline's experience in building large scale ventures help startups? Phocuswright / Flickr.com

Priceline, the world’s largest travel company, has launched a new startup investment arm called Priceline Ventures, Skift has learned and the company has confirmed. The new venture, technically not a separate fund, is fully financed by internal Priceline money, and run by Glenn Fogel, the Worldwide Strategy and Planning head for Priceline.

According to Priceline, this new venture, founded earlier this year, will invest in “growth companies around the world that may be too small or early in their development to be acquisition candidates but are working in areas of substantial interest to the Group.”

Which means companies anywhere from early to later stage startups — not necessarily directly involved in travel — in sectors such social marketing, mobile tech, local consumer market and analytics. Amounts range from as small as one million dollars (or even smaller for attractive seed rounds) to significantly larger sums — we’ve heard up to $20 million, though the company won’t confirm that.

The rationale from Priceline: “The Priceline Group believes it brings to growth companies that work with Priceline Ventures experience in scaling internet-related companies and is in a position to help these companies grow.” In other words, its first step into corporate investment, though still closely aligned to the parent, unlike a lot of other formal strategic investment arms for large companies.

It won’t disclose any name or confirm if it has invested in any startup so far, though we hear it is has been aggressive on the startup scene in New York area for the last few months.

The only other travel industry strategic investment arm we know of is Concur, which recently launched a separate $150 million fund to focus on business travel startups.


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