TripAdvisor has plenty of cash on hand, but if it is true to historical form, it will likely be seeking to continue making smallish acquisitions of struggling travel startups, such as it did with Oyster.com, on the cheap in 2014.
Julie Bradley, TripAdvisor’s CFO, revealed the number February 11 during TripAdvisor’s fourth quarter earnings call, and it was also disclosed in TripAdvisor’s annual report filed the same day.
TripAdvisor had previously indicated in a financial filing last year that it spent $31.6 million for the five acquisitions it made in 2013 before it bought Oyster.com, its sixth purchase, in October.
All things being equal — and they probably aren’t given the complex manner in which public companies account for acquisitions — that would mean TripAdvisor paid around $3.2 million net of cash acquired to buy Oyster, although that number wasn’t immediately confirmed.
Prior to its acquisition by TripAdvisor, Oyster had raised around $18.4 million in funding from backers including Travel Channel, Bain Capital Ventures, and Accelerator Ventures.
TripAdvisor didn’t have to detail in its annual report how much it paid for each acquisition because they weren’t material to its financial results.
At the time of the Oyster acquisition, TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer said TripAdvisor primarily acquired Oyster for its database of hotel photos, and yesterday he said that in 2014 TripAdvisor is integrating those images into TripAdvisor.
The five other acquisitions TripAdvisor made in 2013 were for TinyPost (a photo app), Jetsetter (flash sales), CruiseWise (cruise booking), Niumba (vacation rentals in Spain), and GateGuru (an airport information app).
CruiseWise helped develop a cruise-price tracking tool that Cruise Critic, a TripAdvisor company, recently debuted for consumers.
While TripAdvisor shelled out $34.8 million net of cash acquired for six acquisitions in 2013, it only spent $3.05 million for acquisitions in 2012, and $8.01 million in 2011.
TripAdvisor, while part of the Expedia Inc. family, spent $45.27 million and $38.49 million on acquisitions in 2010 and 2009, respectively.
Making an informed guess, TripAdvisor’s most costly acquisition in 2013 was likely for the Spanish vacation rental site Niumba, which had a viable business. Some of the other startups were on the precipice.
That would mean that TripAdvisor most likely didn’t spend more than a few million on each of its other five acquisitions.
The company said it will continue to be on the prowl for acquisitions in 2014.
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Photo credit: A realistic photo by Oyster.com of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. TripAdvisor acquired Oyster.com in October 2013. PlaceIt by Breezi/Oyster.com