Skift Take

It looks like the Priceline Group's Darren Huston doth protest too much and is feeling the pressure generated by Expedia Inc.'s acquisition strategy.

We acquire the good stuff and they acquire distressed companies.

Although he didn’t put it as crudely, this was Priceline Group CEO Darren Huston’s message about his company’s divergent acquisition strategy when measured against that of Expedia Inc.

Asked on CNBC’s Squawk Box about Expedia Inc.’s acquisition strategy and whether the Priceline Group was done with large acquisitions such as those it did with OpenTable last year and Kayak in 2014, Huston said the Priceline Group has a “slightly different approach” in that it focuses “premium” brands, new competencies or geographic expansion.

Huston, speaking from Amsterdam where Priceline’s unit is based, contrasted that approach with Expedia’s supposed penchant for “doubling” or “tripling down” on the “same” brands.

Translation? Huston was referring to Expedia Inc.’s acquisitions of struggling brands Wotif in 2014, and Travelocity and Orbitz Worldwide in 2015, although the latter acquisition is still up for regulatory review.


The CNBC interviewer asked Huston about the Priceline Group’s recent $20 million acquisition of Rocketmiles. Although the $20 million figure has not been confirmed, Skift has learned it is basically on target. Founded in late 2012, Rocketmiles had raised around $8.5 million.

Huston characterized the Rocketmiles acquisition as a small one that provides new competencies.


On other issues, Huston declined to say whether he thinks Airbnb’s valuation is too high, but he said he’s impressed by the work Airbnb has done. Huston said the Priceline Group, which has more than 1 million instantly bookable vacation rental and apartment units, is likewise a huge player in the space.

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Tags: expedia, mergers and acquisitions, priceline

Photo credit: Priceline Group CEO Darren Huston appearing on CNBC today. CNBC

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