Matt Roberts, OpenTable’s CEO since 2011, has stepped aside and become the Priceline Group-owned restaurant-reservations platform’s chairman, Skift has learned.
A Priceline Group spokesperson confirmed that Christa Quarles became interim CEO in September, when the switch took place. Quarles was chief business officer at Nextdoor until May 2015, when she became OpenTable CFO, a position she is currently handling along with interim CEO duties.
Roberts will stay with OpenTable as chairman until March 2016.
The Priceline Group didn’t announce the change because Quarles took over as CEO on an interim basis, although she’s likely one of the candidates for the CEO title on an ongoing basis, as well.
The Priceline Group, which acquired OpenTable for $2.6 billion in 2014, has been investing fairly slowly in OpenTable’s international expansion as it has with Kayak, acquired in 2013.
During the Priceline Group’s second quarter earnings call on August 5, CEO Darren Huston said: “OpenTable continues to produce double-digit domestic diner growth. After some amount of work to transition its underlying B2B and B2C infrastructure, it’s on track to begin launching new international markets later this year.”
Although the Priceline Group acquired Australia-based restaurant-reservations platform AS Digital in September, Priceline’s acquisition stance in restaurants has been tepid compared with TripAdvisor’s more aggressive approach in Europe and Latin America.
Looking to shake things up, however, OpenTable is testing a form of surge pricing for dining reservations.
Roberts, who has been at OpenTable for a decade, starting as CFO and becoming CEO in 2011, wasn’t viewed as the optimum candidate to spearhead international growth.
He did see the company’s acquisition by the Priceline Group as a game-changer, however.
As is the case with the Priceline Group’s handling of Kayak, it is clear that Priceline isn’t doubling down on investing in OpenTable. With Booking.com the parent company’s overwhelming priority, the international growth of OpenTable will take place at a measured pace, opening opportunities for others.