The Priceline Group’s six-month search for a permanent CEO could be drawing to a close with the winnowing of internal and external candidates, although a company spokesperson tells Skift no final decision has been made.
Potential internal candidates that immediately come to mind might include Glenn Fogel, executive vice president and head of worldwide strategy and planning; Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com, and Steve Hafner, co-founder and CEO of Kayak. There could be other or different internal candidates, too.
Skift has learned that Fogel, who has been with the company for nearly 17 years and has been a key player in the Group’s myriad acquisitions, has the inside track among the candidates. Fogel is a board member of the Group’s Booking.com, Agoda, and Rentalcars.com brands, and was a key player in identifying and executing the 2004 and 2005 acquisitions of Active Hotels and Bookings B.V., which became Booking.com and was one of the most successful deals in Internet history.
Fogel, though, has never been a CEO and presumably didn’t make the cut when the Priceline Group appointed Darren Huston Group CEO in January 2014. Huston left the company in a personnel scandal in April 2016, and former CEO Jeffery Boyd has been the interim CEO ever since. It seems as though Boyd, who retired as Group CEO at the end of 2013, doesn’t have the desire to stay on as permanent CEO.
On the other hand, regarding Fogel’s experience, there have been numerous successful CEOs who didn’t have prior experience in the top job. Altimeter Capital CEO Brad Gerstner on Twitter pointed to Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Airbnb’s Brian Chesky as relevant examples.
— Brad Gerstner (@altcap) October 29, 2016
The Priceline Group spokesman told us that no final decision on the CEO appointment has been made, which means that the board of directors, which is the ultimate voice on the issue, hasn’t signed off on a candidate.