Skift Take

Expedia apparently bailed out Trover, a photography app that created an attractive user experience but ran into a stone wall in the form of Instagram and Facebook, as well as user interest.

Expedia Inc. plucked some photography content and possibly an app from its family tree with its acquisition of fellow-Seattle neighbor Trover.

Rich Barton, who founded Expedia out of Microsoft in 1996, was co-founder and non-executive chairman of Trover. Its CEO is his brother-in law, Jason Karas.

Leveraging Seattle-area relationships, Concur Technologies, which is headquartered in nearby Bellevue, Washington, invested $2.5 million in Trover in 2013 and promoted it to business travelers as a way to visually inform their wanderings.

Co-founded by Barton, who was Expedia’s first CEO, Trover specializes in geo-tagging, publishing, and sharing travel photography, and is the pivot that emerged after Barton and other Expedia alums abandoned a trip-planning venture, TravelPost, in January 2011.

Billed as a “the photo app for travelers,” Trover allows users to upload photos of travel destinations and local experiences, and enables them to follow their favorite photographers.

The problem for Trover is that it came along in 2010 just around the time that another little photography app, Instagram, was getting on track to reach a mass market, and Facebook became the go-to place for local and vacation photos, too. While Trover found a passionate community among a small segment of photographers, it could never crack broader consumer consciousness.

Trover’s branches in the Expedia family tree extend to Trover predecessor company  Travelpost in 2010 when the latter secured $9.8 million in funding from Benchmark Capital, Joel Cutler’s General Catalyst Partners, Barton, and others.

The then-revived Travelpost — the brand name had been acquired from Kayak — was the dream of Barton and fellow Expedia alums Greg Slyngstad (Expedia executive vice president 2000 to 2002), Simon Breakwell (Expedia president 1999 to 2006) and Sunil Shah (Expedia engineering executive 1997 to 2008).

The Travelpost team pledged to create the next big thing in travel in 2010 and were apparently working on some kind of social travel product but the effort fizzled. Trover, headed by Karas, became the next move in a pared down way and it inherited $2.9 million of the original funding for Travelpost. Trover’s total funding is believed to have been around $5.4 million.

All the Soft Places to Fall

In a blog post yesterday announcing what has to be a soft landing for the company in Expedia-land, Trover states that Expedia and its 450 million visitors can extend Trover’s reach and that its content can help Expedia drill down on travel inspiration.

The companies declined to disclose the terms of the deal and Expedia stated: “At Expedia, it’s fair to say we believe in the power of travel. It can transform people. So an important part of our job is to inspire travelers. One way we do this is by igniting dreams through beautiful pictures of amazing destinations. We are excited to explore the compelling opportunities this partnership presents.”

Even if it is a soft landing for Trover into the Expedia Inc. realm, Trover’s content assets may find a nice fit. As Expedia gets deeper into tours and activities and user-generated content, it can tap into Trover’s photography archives just as TripAdvisor posts traveler photos of hotels, for example.

Trover and Expedia declined to quantify or characterize the deal’s financials.

Expedia’s statement also doesn’t indicate whether continuation of the Trover app is in Expedia’s plans, or whether there are any Trover employees transitioning to Expedia.

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Tags: expedia, instagram, trover

Photo credit: A picture of a beach on Islas del Maíz, Nicaragua by the user named Don't Forget To Move. Expedia acquired the social photo sharing site for an undisclosed sum. Trover

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