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Hotel discovery site Room 77 searches for a CEO after raising $43 million in funding

@denschaal

Jan 17, 2013 2:18 pm

Skift Take

The role of quality management in a company’s success tends to get downplayed, but Room 77 is looking for a rock star to lead it toward the next stage in its development.

— Dennis Schaal

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Room 77 is looking to hand over the keys to the CEO suite to a visionary chief executive.


At the stage when the boards of some companies are apt to dump the founder/CEO, Room 77 is actively searching for its first CEO, Skift has learned.

Founded in 2009 by Brad Gerstner, who serves as chairman, the hotel search and booking site is hunting for a “visionary” CEO who is obsessed with the user experience, and can deliver Room 77 to the next level in terms of product development, marketing and international expansion, as the company says in its job description document.

This development occurs as Room 77 recently grabbed $30.3 million in Series C financing from the likes of Expedia, Sutter Hill Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, Concur Technologies, Felicis Ventures, Expedia founder and Zillow chairman Rich Barton, ex-Expedia CEO Erik Blachford, and Hotwire co-founder and Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff.

“We have a terrific team led by Kevin Fliess [COO and general manager] and Calvin Yang [CTO], and a board with deep experience,” Gerstner told Skift. “But, of course, given the dramatic growth in the business — evidenced by our recent fund-raise — we will consider adding exceptional candidates to our team who can help us build a dominant global hotel search company.  My role as chairman in the business will not change.”

As companies mature, they often opt for new CEOs beyond founders, but this would be Room 77’s first. Why?

Gerstner doesn’t answer that specifically, but tells Skift, “If we were to hire a CEO (which we may or may not do in the future), he or she would be the first person to officially hold the title of CEO. But to be clear, we would not have been able to raise $30 million unless we already had all the bases well-covered.”

Debuting with a heavy dose of room-specific searching in early 2011, and morphing into hotel-metasearch about nine months later, Mountain View, California-based Room 77 has taken in $43.6 million in total funding to date.

With Expedia and Concur as investors, and in light of the recent high-profile transactions in hotel metasearch from Priceline and Expedia, Room 77 and competitors are suddenly more interesting.

A new CEO could help prep the company for ramped up expansion as it ponders strategic transactions itself. Gerstner wouldn’t comment on whether Room 77 has felt the nibbles of potential acquirers.

“We can’t comment on specific M&A speculation, but as our investment round indicated, there has been and continues to be significant interest in the business,” Gerstner says.

The latest $30.3 million round was relatively sizable. Gerstner says none of its previous investors cashed out, and “nearly everyone increased their investment.”

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