Skift Take

In the last couple of months the Priceline Group has acquired OpenTable, Buuteeq, Hotel Ninjas and Qlika. The big speculation is what lucky startup will be the next to get a Darren Huston letter to employees.

Three days after announcing that it would acquire OpenTable for $2.6 billion, Priceline Group CEO Darren Huston sought to assure OpenTable’s roughly 664 employees that “the Priceline Group is not a heavy-handed parent.”

“To start with, 99.9% of resources are within the Brands [, Kayak,, Agoda and], not in the Group,” Huston wrote in the letter filed with SEC [embedded below]. “We have a natural aversion to artificial ‘synergies’ or top-down direction. Rather, we pride ourselves in being a collection of like-minded, entrepreneurially-led, performance-driven Brands who like to win and who share best practices in areas where everyone gains and the cost of coordination is low.”

“We also share demand and will promote one another where-ever it makes sense. In the case of OpenTable, [CEO] Matt [Roberts] and I have already identified some of these biggest opportunities, but they all relate to investing in people, technology, and accelerating growth. And, they all rely on you vs. us to drive the day-to-day execution and innovation that will help us achieve unimaginable success.”

Huston is turning out to be a prolific letter-writer as he shot off a different letter to his own employees on June 13 right as the deal was being announced publicly.

In the letter to OpenTable employees, Huston notes that Priceline is a a global company and no longer merely ‘name your own price’ and William Shatner.” Perhaps a letter to Shatner will be next on Huston’s agenda.

“Between us, we actually share very common DNA,” Huston writes to OpenTable staff.  “Every single day and around the world, we obsess about the experience we deliver for our customers and the relationships we have with our hotel, air, and rental car partners.  Some of our brands, you may be familiar with, others maybe less so.  However, rest assured, and just like you, we understand the importance of hard work and how to really build global success in an online marketplace from the ground up.”

Huston tells the OpenTable employees of the Priceline Group’s huge ambitions for its newest brand.

“After the deal closes (likely in early Q3), Matt and I will be sharing more information around our acceleration plans. We are both committed to building out the world’s leading brand for restaurant reservations, accessible anywhere on any device. Until then, it will be business as usual.”

Following is the full text of the letter:

Download (PDF, 95KB)


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Tags: employees, opentable, priceline

Photo credit: OpenTable and Foodspotting employees get together in January 2013 when OpenTable acquired Foodspotting. Seth and Alexa Andrzejewski /

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