Expedia Inc.’s initial bid for HomeAway was $35 per share on October 8 and Expedia temporarily walked away from the negotiations four days later when HomeAway countered that it wanted a number in the $40s.

After nearly a month of back and forth talks, the two sides agreed on an imputed value of $38.31 in the $3.9 billion cash and stock deal with HomeAway’s board of directors unanimously approving the deal on the afternoon of November 4 and the two sides announcing the agreement after the stock market close later that afternoon as HomeAway published its third quarter earnings.

Along the way, Company A informally expressed an interest in acquiring HomeAway in November 2014, and companies B, C, and D discussed making their own strategic investments in HomeAway from May to August 2015 but none ultimately made an offer.

An alternative transaction and commercial agreement from Company F got serious consideration from HomeAway in late October 2015 but HomeAway concluded that the proposal would not have been in the interests of HomeAway’s shareholders.

Were the Priceline Group, TripAdvisor, or Google among the interested parties engaged in the process or kicking the tires? That’s anyone’s educated guess.

Expedia and HomeAway revealed the background to the deal, as required, in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing November 16 [see the full text of the Background of the Offer and the Mergers below]. As is customary, the only interested party mentioned by name was the successful bidder.

The merger agreement concluded a nearly three-year process, which began in February 2013 when HomeAway engaged Qatalyst Partners to begin discussions about the merits of a possible sale scenario.

One of the big takeaways from the SEC filing is that HomeAway concluded it faced substantial risks as a standalone business considering its push to get to 100 percent online booking from vacation rental owners and managers, and the introduction of a travelers’ service fee. An acquisition, such as the one concluded with Expedia, would mitigate some of that risk because of all of its technical and financial resources.

Although five companies other than Expedia expressed an interest in investing in HomeAway or proposed an alternative transaction, only one, Expedia, made a full-blown acquisition proposal. That may say something about HomeAway’s prospects, the very competitive marketplace in the vacation rental space and the broader sharing economy.

A couple of other interesting tidbits from the filing:

  • HomeAway CEO Sharples and the HomeAway board sought to accelerate his unvested equity award and considered whether that might be an impediment to concluding the deal. On October 30 Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told Sharples in a phone conversation that an acceleration of Sharples’s unvested equity awards wouldn’t impact the transaction. The HomeAway board approved the acceleration of Sharples’ awards.
  • On October 21 Khosrowshahi and Sharples agreed that Sharples would have to remain at HomeAway in his position for at least a year after the transaction closes and they would discuss further details after the two companies agreed to the transaction.

Following is the verbatim blow-by-blow account of how Expedia’s acquisition of HomeAway came about as described in the “Background of the Offer and the Mergers” of their November 16, 2015 S-4 filing:

Background of the Offer and the Mergers

The HomeAway board of directors periodically reviews and assesses HomeAway’s operations and financial performance, business strategy, the various trends and conditions affecting its industry, its businesses generally and a variety of strategic alternatives reasonably available to HomeAway, including business combinations, acquisitions and other financial and strategic alternatives. From time to time over the past few years, HomeAway has had high-level discussions with other parties about the possibility of a potential business combination or other similar transaction. However, none of those historical communications progressed to the point of an actual proposal and, in each such prior instance, the HomeAway board of directors decided to continue to execute upon HomeAway’s standalone strategic plan.

On February 26, 2013, HomeAway engaged Qatalyst Partners both to provide independent, ongoing advice and analysis to the HomeAway board of directors with respect to mergers and acquisitions activity in the internet and travel industry segments and to advise HomeAway in the event that a communication about a potential business combination or other similar transaction developed into an actual proposal and that the HomeAway board of directors needed a financial advisor to help the HomeAway board of directors analyze whether a potential business combination or similar transaction would be more favorable to the stockholders of HomeAway than its standalone strategic plan.

From the time of engagement and at the request of the HomeAway board of directors, representatives of Qatalyst Partners would periodically discuss with the HomeAway board of directors various aspects of HomeAway’s industry, business generally, and the climate for potential business combinations and other financial and strategic alternatives.

In the first half of November 2014, an executive at Company A contacted Carl Shepherd, one of HomeAway’s co-founders and a member of the HomeAway board of directors, and orally expressed an interest in acquiring HomeAway. Mr. Shepherd encouraged the executive to make a written proposal to the HomeAway board of directors. In a subsequent communication, the executive at Company A indicated orally to representatives of Qatalyst Partners that Company A was potentially interested in an acquisition of HomeAway, but in early December, 2014, the executive indicated that Company A determined not to make an acquisition proposal at that time.

On May 18, 2015, during a business development meeting between Mr. Shepherd and an executive at Company B, the executive at Company B raised the possibility of Company B making a strategic investment in HomeAway and entering into a commercial agreement. No substantive business terms were proposed or discussed by the executive at Company B at that time. HomeAway offered to host a follow-up meeting with Company B, but no follow-up meeting occurred and Company B did not contact HomeAway about its proposal again.

In the early summer of 2015, Company C contacted Brian Sharples, HomeAway’s co-founder, chairman, president and chief executive officer, to discuss a potential business combination or other similar transaction. Company C submitted no written indication of interest or proposal, the HomeAway board of directors was uncertain of Company C’s financial resources, and Company C did not provide any details regarding a potential business combination such that Mr. Sharples or HomeAway’s board of directors could reasonably evaluate Company C’s overture, and as a result, no further discussions were had with Company C.

In August 2015, an executive at Company D contacted Mr. Shepherd to discuss the possibility of making a strategic investment in HomeAway and entering into a commercial agreement. No substantive business terms were proposed or discussed and after its initial contact Company D did not contact HomeAway or any of its representatives again. However, as a result of this and the other unsolicited inbound inquiries that HomeAway had received, the HomeAway board of directors requested that Qatalyst Partners provide an update on the mergers and acquisitions market in the internet and travel industry segments.

Throughout this time, HomeAway’s management and the HomeAway board of directors had discussed and considered transitioning HomeAway’s business model from a largely subscription-based revenue model to a model that relied on both subscription and transaction-based revenue. The transition was uncertain and posed numerous execution and other potentially material risks. Nonetheless, in the second quarter of 2015, based on developments in the marketplace in which HomeAway operates and increased competition, HomeAway began an internal review focused on identifying initiatives that would accelerate such a transition, which, if properly executed, HomeAway management and the HomeAway board of directors believed would lead to greater profitability and increased value for HomeAway stockholders.

Throughout the third quarter of 2015, management discussed the transition to a combined subscription and transaction-based revenue model, and in August and September of 2015 began conducting preliminary analysis of the potential financial impacts of the new model.

On August 20, 2015, the HomeAway board of directors held a regularly scheduled meeting. HomeAway management and the HomeAway board of directors discussed the increased competition in HomeAway’s industry and business challenges that HomeAway was facing, as well as changes HomeAway could make to its business to address some of those challenges. HomeAway had been facing those challenges for some time, and HomeAway management and the HomeAway board of directors had discussed possible changes to HomeAway’s business model on several prior occasions, including the possibility of introducing a traveler fee to grow transaction-based revenue and the transition to a subscription and transaction-based revenue model, which HomeAway refers to as the “new business model.” The HomeAway board of directors discussed the execution and other risks associated with such a transition and new business model, including customer reaction, technical challenges and the impact on stockholder value.

In anticipation of the August 20, 2015 meeting of the HomeAway board of directors, HomeAway management had prepared a preliminary operating plan reflecting how the implementation of the new business model might impact HomeAway’s business. HomeAway management presented a comparison of this preliminary operating plan for the new business model with HomeAway’s then-current three-year operating plan, which did not reflect the new business model.

The HomeAway board of directors discussed the presentation with management at length, but felt that more information was required with respect to the assumptions underlying management’s preliminary analysis of the potential financial impacts of the new business model for the HomeAway board of directors to properly analyze management’s presentation. As a result, the HomeAway board of directors instructed HomeAway management to continue to refine its preliminary analysis, to conduct market research and to present a refined analysis, along with additional detail with respect to the assumptions underlying management’s preliminary analysis, to the HomeAway board of directors at a later date.

In light of the foregoing discussions, the HomeAway board of directors decided to undertake an evaluation of HomeAway’s standalone business plans and prospects and its financial forecasts based on those business plans, as well as of HomeAway’s potential strategic alternatives, including potential strategic transactions, before making any final determination with respect to either HomeAway’s standalone business plans or any strategic alternatives. As a result, the HomeAway board of directors instructed Qatalyst Partners, representatives of which had attended the August 20, 2015 board meeting at the invitation of the HomeAway board of directors, to assist with the board’s review of the value of HomeAway to its stockholders as a standalone company executing on the new business model, taking into account the risks and competitive landscape faced by HomeAway, as compared to the value HomeAway’s stockholders might receive in connection with a business combination or other similar transaction.

As a result, although none of the overtures from Company A, Company B, Company C nor Company D had led to any specific proposal, as part of its analysis of HomeAway’s standalone plan, the HomeAway board of directors determined that business conditions warranted conducting a tailored market check to determine what a potential acquirer might pay for HomeAway and whether a business combination or other similar transaction might yield more value on a risk-adjusted basis for HomeAway stockholders than executing HomeAway’s standalone strategic plan. Representatives of WSGR (Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Professional Corporation), HomeAway’s legal counsel, who regularly attended HomeAway’s board meetings, discussed with the HomeAway board of directors their fiduciary obligations in the context of an analysis of a potential business combination or other similar transaction as compared to HomeAway’s prospects as a standalone company.

On August 21, 2015, after consulting with representatives of Qatalyst Partners and determining the most likely financially capable parties to be interested in acquiring HomeAway, the HomeAway board of directors instructed representatives of Qatalyst Partners to contact four parties, Company A, Company E, Company F and Expedia, as part of its evaluation of HomeAway’s strategic alternatives, including continuing as a standalone company.

On September 3, 2015, Company E indicated to representatives of Qatalyst Partners that it was not interested in any business combination, strategic investment or other similar transaction with HomeAway.

Between September 3 and September 18, HomeAway negotiated and entered into confidentiality agreements with Company A, Company F and Expedia. Between September 21, 2015 and September 30, 2015, HomeAway held a number of lengthy management meetings in person and by conference call with various representatives of Company A, Company F and Expedia during which in-depth financial, legal and other due diligence was conducted.

On September 30, 2015, representatives of Qatalyst Partners sent a process letter, outlining an initial bid date of October 8, 2015, to Company A, Company F and Expedia.

On October 1, 2015, HomeAway held a follow up management meeting with representatives of Company F to provide additional detailed financial due diligence. During the meeting, management shared with Company F a preliminary draft set of financial projections, which were not approved by the HomeAway board of directors, reflecting HomeAway’s new business model. The preliminary draft projections were subsequently updated and were provided to Company F on October 5, 2015. They are described in greater detail below.

Also on October 1, 2015, the HomeAway board of directors held a special telephonic meeting. Representatives of WSGR discussed the fiduciary obligations of the board of directors in connection with any potential sale of HomeAway. Mr. Sharples and representatives of Qatalyst Partners updated the board of directors on the status of discussions with Company A, Company E, Company F and Expedia. Mr. Sharples also reported on a recent change in the search algorithms of a leading search engine and the potential for such a change to impact HomeAway’s business. The HomeAway board of directors discussed that this change would require an adjustment in anticipated marketing expense in management’s preliminary analysis of the subscription and transaction-based revenue model.

The HomeAway board of directors also discussed that although HomeAway management had provided additional information on the assumptions underlying management’s preliminary analysis of the new business model, the model still did not reflect a number of risks that the board of directors had identified with respect to HomeAway’s future business prospects, including, among other things, that prior adjustments to HomeAway’s business model had resulted in unexpected negative impacts on user experience and HomeAway’s business, that implementing a traveler fee posed technical challenges and would complicate tax reporting in foreign jurisdictions, that prior technological changes had often taken longer and been more difficult to implement than management had anticipated, and that HomeAway might have difficulty hiring and retaining the kind of technical talent that would be needed to make this transition.

At this meeting, the HomeAway board of directors also authorized the formation of a transaction committee consisting of Charles “Lanny” Baker, Jeffrey Brody, Christopher “Woody” Marshall and Mr. Shepherd to be available to respond to HomeAway management quickly and efficiently on matters requiring the input of directors but not requiring a meeting of the full HomeAway board of directors.

Later on October 1, 2015, Company A sent representatives of Qatalyst Partners follow up due diligence questions in advance of a financial due diligence session scheduled to be held on October 2, 2015.

Between October 1, 2015 and October 5, 2015, HomeAway management continued to refine its preliminary analysis and built a set of projections based on that analysis, which HomeAway refers to as the “October 5 projections” and which are described more fully in the section entitled “—Prospective Financial Information.” The October 5 projections were in draft form and were not approved by the HomeAway board of directors, but on October 5, 2015, they were shared, in draft form, with Company A, Company F and Expedia as part of their diligence and HomeAway’s market check process.

On October 2, 2015, Company F and Expedia separately sent representatives of Qatalyst Partners due diligence request lists. Also on October 2, 2015, the HomeAway management team held two separate follow up conference calls with representatives of Expedia and Company A to provide additional detailed financial due diligence.

On October 4, 2015, Company A sent representatives of Qatalyst Partners a follow up due diligence request list. Later on October 4, 2015, and again on October 6, 2015, representatives of Qatalyst Partners provided Company A, Company F and Expedia with certain follow up diligence items prepared by the HomeAway management team.
On October 7, 2015, Company A indicated to Mr. Sharples that it would not be submitting a bid and ceased its diligence efforts.

On October 8, 2015, Expedia submitted a preliminary indication of interest to acquire HomeAway at $35.00 per share in Expedia common stock or a combination of cash and Expedia common stock. The same day, Company F indicated that it would not be submitting a bid to purchase HomeAway, but proposed an alternative transaction coupled with a commercial agreement.

On October 9, 2015, the HomeAway board of directors held a special telephonic meeting. At the invitation of the board, members of HomeAway management, representatives of WSGR and representatives of Qatalyst Partners attended the meeting. Mr. Sharples and representatives of Qatalyst Partners summarized discussions with potential bidders to date; including the fact that Company A had declined to continue discussions and that Company F had declined to submit any indication of interest but had proposed an alternative transaction coupled with a commercial agreement.

Representatives of Qatalyst Partners then summarized Expedia’s acquisition proposal of $35.00 per share. The HomeAway board of directors discussed the Expedia proposal and the Company F proposal at length with members of management, representatives of WSGR and representatives of Qatalyst Partners. After discussing the benefits and risks of each of the Company F and Expedia proposals, as well as HomeAway’s prospects and risks as a standalone company and the risks associated with transitioning to a new business model as a standalone company, the HomeAway board of directors instructed HomeAway management and representatives of Qatalyst Partners to continue discussions with Company F and Expedia and to seek to negotiate Expedia’s proposal by indicating to Expedia that a bid in the low $40s per share likely would prevail in the competitive process while the board continued its analysis of what would yield the greatest value for HomeAway stockholders—an alternative transaction coupled with a commercial agreement with Company F, a sale of HomeAway to Expedia, or executing HomeAway’s standalone plan and new business model, taking into account various factors, including the risks of transitioning to a new business model as a standalone company.

On October 10, 2015, representatives of Qatalyst Partners communicated HomeAway’s message regarding price to Expedia’s representatives as directed by the HomeAway board of directors.

Also on October 10, 2015, with the assistance of representatives of Qatalyst Partners and representatives of WSGR, HomeAway began its diligence of Company F’s alternative transaction coupled with a commercial agreement.

On October 12, 2015, representatives of Expedia called representatives of Qatalyst Partners and indicated that it could not meet the price expectations of the HomeAway board of directors and stated that it would withdraw from the bidding process at the price level being proposed by the HomeAway board of directors.

On October 13, 2015, the HomeAway board of directors held a special telephonic meeting. At the invitation of the board, members of HomeAway management, representatives of WSGR and representatives of Qatalyst Partners attended. The HomeAway board of directors received updates on the status of discussions with Company F and Expedia. Representatives of Qatalyst Partners discussed potential strategies to get Expedia to re-engage in the process.

The board discussed whether it would be appropriate to expand its process and solicit indications of interest from additional parties. After considering the fact that HomeAway had contacted those parties that the board of directors believed would be most interested in an acquisition of HomeAway, that no prior overtures or discussions with respect to strategic investments or commercial partnerships had led to any written or other formal business terms or proposals, that two of the most likely candidates other than Expedia to acquire HomeAway, Company A and Company F, had declined to submit any proposal to do so, that management resources were fully occupied running HomeAway’s day-to-day business operations, preparing for a transition to a new business model, analyzing the proposal from Company F and possibly reengaging with Expedia, the HomeAway board of directors determined that it was not in the best interests of HomeAway’s stockholders to expand its market check process.

On October 15, 2015, representatives of Qatalyst Partners contacted an Expedia executive and discussed re-engaging in the process with an additional diligence session to enable Expedia to meet a larger group of the HomeAway executive team.
On October 15, 2015, members of HomeAway management and representatives of Qatalyst Partners met with Company F to conduct due diligence on Company F’s proposed alternative transaction and commercial agreement.

On October 16, 2015, representatives of Expedia scheduled a follow-up management meeting with HomeAway for October 19, 2015.

On October 19, 2015, HomeAway management held a conference call with representatives of Expedia. Also on October 19, 2015, representatives of Qatalyst Partners updated the HomeAway transaction committee at a telephonic meeting of the committee regarding the call representatives of Qatalyst Partners had with representatives of Expedia on October 15, 2015 and members of HomeAway management advised the transaction committee that a follow-up management meeting with representatives of Expedia had been scheduled for later that day as a result of that call.

Between October 19, 2015 and October 22, 2015, HomeAway management continued to conduct diligence on Company F’s alternative transaction coupled with a commercial agreement.

On October 21, 2015, during a conversation between Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia’s president and chief executive officer, and Mr. Sharples, Mr. Khosrowshahi indicated that he would expect Mr. Sharples to remain employed with Expedia/HomeAway for a period of at least one year if Expedia were to acquire HomeAway. Mr. Sharples and Mr. Khosrowshahi did not discuss the terms of any such future employment, and agreed to postpone any further discussions on the topic until after a definitive transaction agreement had been signed. Later that day, Mr. Sharples reported the conversation with Mr. Khosrowshahi to Mr. Marshall, the head of HomeAway’s compensation committee of the board, and asked that the compensation committee consider accelerating Mr. Sharples’ unvested equity awards if Expedia was to complete an acquisition of HomeAway, as long as it would not put the acquisition in jeopardy. Mr. Marshall agreed to submit the matter to the compensation committee for consideration to the extent that it was consistent with Expedia’s transition plan.

On October 22, 2015, Expedia submitted a revised proposal to acquire all of HomeAway’s common stock for $36.50 per share, consisting of up to an aggregate of $1 billion in cash and the remainder in shares of Expedia common stock. Also on October 22, 2015, at a meeting of the HomeAway board of directors, Mr. Khosrowshahi discussed with the HomeAway board of directors the background and performance of Expedia’s businesses and provided an update on its integration of other recent acquisitions. The HomeAway board of directors asked numerous questions and then met in executive session to discuss Expedia’s proposal and their discussion with Mr. Khosrowshahi.

Throughout this time, at the direction of the HomeAway board of directors, representatives of WSGR and representatives of Qatalyst Partners, in each case together with members of HomeAway management, continued reverse legal and financial diligence, respectively, on Expedia, and representatives of Expedia conducted legal and financial diligence on HomeAway.

On October 24, 2015, at the instruction of the HomeAway board of directors, representatives of Qatalyst Partners contacted representatives of Expedia by telephone to discuss the details of Expedia’s revised offer, including the mix of cash and stock consideration and any financing needs that Expedia might have.

On October 25, 2015, the HomeAway board of directors held a special meeting to discuss the current proposals from Company F and Expedia. At the invitation of the HomeAway board of directors, members of HomeAway management and representatives of Qatalyst Partners and WSGR attended the special meeting. The HomeAway board of directors discussed the current terms proposed by Company F with respect to its proposal. Over the course of that discussion, the HomeAway board of directors came to the conclusion that the financial terms and governance restrictions proposed by Company F in connection with its alternative transaction and commercial agreement would not be beneficial to HomeAway’s stockholders and would have to be significantly revised.

The HomeAway board of directors instructed management to continue to negotiate for more favorable terms with Company F. Representatives of Qatalyst Partners then reported on their phone conversation with representatives of Expedia from the night before. The HomeAway board of directors discussed Expedia’s proposal and discussed strategies for increasing the price that Expedia was offering. The HomeAway board of directors also discussed the ongoing risks HomeAway faced as a standalone company and the risks associated with its transition to a new business model. The HomeAway board of directors instructed Mr. Sharples to counter Expedia’s proposal at $39 per share and the meeting was then adjourned.

Later on October 25, 2015, at the instruction of the HomeAway board of directors, Mr. Sharples countered Expedia’s offer of $36.50 per share at $39.00 per share. Mr. Khosrowshahi said that he would consider and discuss the counterproposal with Expedia’s management and members of Expedia’s executive committee and thereafter respond to Mr. Sharples’ counterproposal.

On October 26, 2015, Mr. Khosrowshahi called Mr. Sharples and offered $38.25 per share, consisting of up to an aggregate $1 billion in cash with the remainder in Expedia common stock at a fixed exchange ratio to be determined. Mr. Sharples reported the offer to the HomeAway board of directors and later on October 26, 2015, at the instruction of the HomeAway board of directors, representatives of Qatalyst Partners called representatives of Expedia to discuss Expedia’s revised offer. Representatives of Qatalyst Partners asked whether Expedia would increase the aggregate amount of cash in the offer and to consider offering downside protection on the stock portion of the offer.

Representatives of Expedia replied that Expedia would offer an aggregate $1 billion in cash, rather than up to an aggregate of $1 billion in cash, that it would not offer any downside protection on the stock portion of the offer and that its offer was best and final. Later in the day on October 26, 2015, representatives of Qatalyst Partners reviewed Expedia’s offer with the HomeAway board of directors.

Between October 26, 2015 and the next meeting of the HomeAway board of directors on October 27, 2015, at the instruction of the HomeAway board of directors, representatives of Qatalyst Partners contacted Company A and inquired whether it would submit a proposal to acquire HomeAway and Mr. Sharples contacted Company F and inquired whether it would submit a proposal to acquire HomeAway. Neither Company A nor Company F submitted such a proposal.

On October 27, 2015, the HomeAway board of directors met to discuss Expedia’s best and final offer. At the invitation of the HomeAway board of directors, members of HomeAway management, representatives of Qatalyst Partners and representatives of WSGR attended the special meeting. The HomeAway board of directors discussed whether any of the previous companies that had been contacted would be likely to submit a bid to acquire HomeAway and determined that it was not likely. The HomeAway board of directors asked whether Company F had revised its proposal for an alternative transaction coupled with a commercial agreement and was advised that it had not done so and that Company F indicated it was not likely to make any significant changes to its existing proposal. As a result, the HomeAway board of directors instructed management to terminate discussions with Company F. Discussion among the members of the HomeAway board of directors, representatives of WSGR and representatives of Qatalyst Partners regarding Expedia’s revised offer ensued. As part of the HomeAway board of directors’ analysis of Expedia’s revised proposal, members of management presented the October 5 projections of HomeAway’s revised revenue model. After lengthy discussion, the HomeAway board of directors determined that management’s projections still did not adequately address the risks that the board of directors had identified with respect to a transition to a new business model. The HomeAway board of directors instructed management to refine the projections taking into account, at a minimum, the following risks:

• risks of supplier disruption similar or worse to supplier disruptions associated with previous business model and platform migrations;

• market research that indicated higher than expected price elasticity for travelers in increasingly transparent markets such as HomeAway’s market and for HomeAway’s suppliers more broadly;

• search engine optimization, or “SEO,” risks;

• the higher cost of traffic reducing cost per view effectiveness and reducing HomeAway’s ability to spend at the desired return on investment; and

• the execution risk associated with launching a new business initiative that HomeAway did not have prior experience in.

The HomeAway board of directors instructed WSGR to provide Expedia’s representatives with a draft definitive transaction agreement in contemplation of a potential business combination transaction and instructed management and representatives of Qatalyst Partners to negotiate the terms of the exchange ratio that would be applied to the stock portion of Expedia’s offer.

Later on October 27, 2015, representatives of Expedia expressed that it would require exclusivity in order to continue due diligence and negotiations.

On the evening of October 27, 2015 (Pacific time), at the instruction of the HomeAway board of directors, representatives of WSGR sent a proposed transaction agreement to representatives of Expedia’s outside counsel at Wachtell Lipton.

On October 28, 2015, the transaction committee approved entering into a brief exclusivity period with Expedia in order to complete negotiations. A final version of an exclusivity letter was then circulated to the transaction committee copying the full HomeAway board of directors and in the afternoon of October 28, 2015, HomeAway entered into an exclusivity agreement with Expedia providing for exclusivity through November 4, 2015.

Between October 28, 2015 and October 30, 2015, at the instruction of the HomeAway board of directors, HomeAway management and representatives of WSGR negotiated the terms of the proposed transaction agreement with representatives of Wachtell Lipton and Expedia, and, together with members of HomeAway management, representatives of WSGR and representatives of Qatalyst Partners continued to conduct reverse legal and financial due diligence on Expedia, respectively, while Expedia and its financial and legal advisors continued their diligence on HomeAway.

On October 30, 2015, members of Expedia management, along with representatives of Wachtell Lipton, held a conference call with members of HomeAway management and representatives of WSGR regarding Expedia’s due diligence of HomeAway. Diligence generally continued throughout the negotiation period.

On October 30, 2015, the HomeAway board of directors held a special meeting. At the invitation of the board, members of HomeAway management, representatives of Qatalyst Partners and representatives of WSGR attended the meeting. The HomeAway board of directors received an update on the status of negotiations with Expedia and unanimously ratified the exclusivity agreement that the transaction committee had approved and that HomeAway had entered into. Representatives of WSGR and representatives of Qatalyst Partners, in each case together with members of HomeAway management, reported on the status of reverse legal and financial due diligence, respectively, on Expedia.

Later on October 30, 2015, in anticipation of a meeting of the HomeAway board of directors scheduled for October 31, 2015, HomeAway management distributed revised projections to the HomeAway board of directors that addressed several of the risks and concerns that the HomeAway board of directors had raised at the October 27, 2015 meeting, which HomeAway refers to as the “October 30 projections.” These revised projections are discussed more fully in the section entitled “—Prospective Financial Information.” After a lengthy discussion of the October 30 projections and the risks that HomeAway faced as a standalone company, including with respect to its implementation of a new business model and all the risks and challenges related thereto, the HomeAway board of directors approved the October 30 projections.

The HomeAway board of directors then analyzed the value of the Expedia offer as it compared to HomeAway’s prospects as a standalone company, taking the October 30 projections into account. Representatives of WSGR reviewed with the HomeAway board of directors their fiduciary duties and presented a summary of key terms in the proposed transaction agreement and the status of negotiations with representatives of Wachtell Lipton and Expedia. The HomeAway board of directors gave HomeAway management and WSGR guidance with respect to the key terms of the proposed transaction agreement and instructed HomeAway management and WSGR to continue to negotiate the terms of the proposed transaction agreement in a manner consistent with such guidance.

Also on October 30, 2015, Mr. Sharples spoke to Mr. Khosrowshahi and informed him that the HomeAway compensation committee was considering accelerating Mr. Sharples’ unvested equity awards in connection with Expedia’s proposed acquisition of HomeAway. Mr. Marshall subsequently called Mr. Khosrowshahi and explained that the compensation committee would be considering accelerating Mr. Sharples’ unvested equity awards in light of Mr. Sharples’ significant contributions to HomeAway over the course of many years and the fact that such acceleration would not be unusual for a founding president and chief executive officer in the context of a change-of-control transaction. Mr. Marshall also stated that the compensation committee would not accelerate Mr. Sharples’ unvested equity awards if it would negatively impact Expedia’s transition plan or Expedia’s offer to acquire HomeAway. Mr. Khosrowshahi responded that Expedia would not object to accelerating Mr. Sharples’ unvested equity awards, and it would not affect the proposed transaction in any manner.

From October 31, 2015 through November 2, 2015, HomeAway management and representatives of WSGR negotiated the terms of the proposed transaction agreement with Expedia management and representatives of Wachtell Lipton, while HomeAway management and representatives of Qatalyst Partners discussed and negotiated with Expedia management the exchange ratio that would apply to the stock portion and the exact cash amount per share of Expedia’s offer.

On November 2, 2015, representatives of Qatalyst Partners sent the October 30 projections to Expedia, which are described in greater detail below. Also on November 2, 2015, members of Expedia management, along with representatives of Wachtell Lipton, held a conference call with members of HomeAway management and representatives of WSGR regarding Expedia’s due diligence of HomeAway. The parties continued to conduct due diligence on each other throughout the negotiation period.

On November 3, 2015, the HomeAway board of directors held a special meeting. At the invitation of the board, members of HomeAway management and representatives of Qatalyst Partners and WSGR attended the meeting. Representatives of WSGR again presented on the fiduciary obligations of the HomeAway board of directors in connection with a potential sale of the company. Representatives of WSGR also presented all of the material terms of, including open issues in, the draft transaction agreement. The HomeAway board of directors asked questions and discussion ensued. Representatives of Qatalyst Partners reviewed its preliminary analysis of the consideration offered by Expedia from a financial point of view with the HomeAway board of directors.

The HomeAway board of directors discussed Qatalyst Partners’ preliminary analysis and HomeAway’s prospects as a standalone company, including in the context of the October 30 projections that the HomeAway board of directors had approved on October 31, 2015. Representatives of WSGR and representatives of Qatalyst Partners, in each case together with members of HomeAway management, also presented to the board the results of their legal and financial due diligence, respectively, on Expedia. Representatives of Qatalyst Partners reported that Expedia confirmed again that its offer of $38.25 per share of HomeAway common stock was best and final. The HomeAway board of directors asked questions and discussion ensued. Once the HomeAway board of directors was satisfied that all of its questions had been answered, it gave HomeAway management, representatives of Qatalyst Partners and representatives of WSGR guidance with respect to the open issues in the draft transaction agreement and the exchange ratio that would be applied to the stock portion of Expedia’s offer and instructed them to negotiate the final transaction agreement and exchange ratio in a manner consistent with such guidance.

The HomeAway board of directors then adjourned the meeting to allow a meeting of HomeAway’s compensation committee to take place. Members of management left the meeting and the HomeAway compensation committee met to discuss the employment compensation, severance and other employee benefit arrangements that were being considered in connection with a potential sale to Expedia, as well as the treatment of employee equity awards contemplated by the proposed transaction agreement.

Later on November 3, 2015, members of HomeAway management, along with representatives of WSGR and Qatalyst Partners, held a conference call with members of Expedia management regarding the reverse legal and financial due diligence, respectively, of Expedia.

In the evening of November 3, 2015, based on the instructions of the HomeAway board of directors, HomeAway management and representatives of Qatalyst Partners negotiated the final offer consideration comprised of an exchange ratio of 0.2065 of a share of Expedia common stock and a cash amount of $10.15 per HomeAway share.

Through the evening of November 3, 2015 and throughout the night into the morning of November 4, 2015, within the parameters provided by the HomeAway board of directors, HomeAway management and representatives of WSGR negotiated the final transaction agreement with Expedia management and representatives of Wachtell Lipton. Following these negotiations, during the morning of November 4, 2014, representatives of WSGR circulated the final form of the definitive transaction agreement to the HomeAway board of directors.

In the afternoon of November 4, 2015, the HomeAway board of directors began a special meeting. At the invitation of the board, members of HomeAway management, representatives of Qatalyst Partners and representatives of WSGR attended the meeting. Representatives of WSGR presented the terms of the final form of the transaction agreement, all of which were within the parameters provided by the HomeAway board of directors at prior meetings. Representatives of Qatalyst Partners presented its financial analyses of the consideration to be received by HomeAway’s stockholders pursuant to the final form of the transaction agreement, and the final financial terms of Expedia’s offer, including Expedia’s proposed $10.15 in cash and 0.2065 of a share of Expedia common stock per share of HomeAway common stock.

The HomeAway board of directors discussed that, using the closing price of Expedia’s common stock on November 3, 2015, the last trading day before the current HomeAway board of directors’ meeting, Expedia’s offer represented an imputed value of $38.31 per share of HomeAway common stock. Representatives of WSGR reviewed the board’s fiduciary obligations in connection with a sale of HomeAway. The HomeAway board of directors asked questions and discussions ensued. The HomeAway board of directors then temporarily adjourned to allow the HomeAway compensation committee to meet. The HomeAway compensation committee discussed and then approved the employment compensation, severance and other employee benefit arrangements contemplated as part of the sale of HomeAway to Expedia, including the treatment of employee equity awards in the final form of the transaction agreement.

The HomeAway board of directors then reconvened. The HomeAway compensation committee summarized for the full board the employment compensation, severance and other employee benefit arrangements that it had approved, including the treatment of employee equity awards in the final form of the transaction agreement, which the full board subsequently ratified and approved. Representatives of Qatalyst Partners then delivered to the HomeAway board of directors Qatalyst Partners’ oral opinion, subsequently confirmed in writing by delivery of a written opinion dated November 4, 2015, that, as of that date and based upon and subject to the various factors, assumptions, considerations, limitations and other matters set forth in its written opinion, the consideration to be received by holders of HomeAway common stock, other than Expedia or any affiliate of Expedia, pursuant to the final form of the transaction agreement was fair, from a financial point of view, to such holders.

For more information about Qatalyst Partners’ opinion, see the section entitled “—Opinion of HomeAway’s Financial Advisor.” After discussing the potential reasons for and against entering into a business combination transaction with Expedia, which are set forth in further detail below under the section entitled “—HomeAway’s Reasons for the Offer and the Mergers; Recommendation of HomeAway’s Board of Directors,” the HomeAway board of directors concluded that Expedia’s offer yielded greater value for HomeAway’s stockholders than either any other proposal HomeAway had received, or was likely to receive, or executing HomeAway’s strategic plan as a standalone company.

The HomeAway board of directors then unanimously (i) determined that the terms of the transaction agreement and the transactions contemplated thereby are fair to, and in the best interests of, HomeAway and its stockholders, (ii) determined that it is in the best interests of HomeAway and its stockholders and declared it advisable to enter into the transaction agreement, (iii) approved the execution and delivery by HomeAway of the transaction agreement, the performance by HomeAway of its covenants and agreements contained therein and the consummation of the offer, the mergers and the other transactions in the transaction agreement upon the terms and subject to the conditions contained therein and (iv) resolved to recommend that the stockholders of HomeAway accept the offer and tender their shares of HomeAway common stock to Expedia’s acquisition subsidiary, the Offeror, pursuant to the offer.

Immediately following the close of markets in the United States on November 4, 2015, HomeAway and Expedia signed the transaction agreement and announced the transaction.

Photo Credit: Brian Sharples, HomeAway CEO (left), at a Fortune event, and Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia CEO at last year's Phocuswright Conference. Phocuswright and Fortune Brainstorm TECH / Flickr