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Wheelings & Dealings: Look Who's Coming to Dinner

TMCnet Feature

June 13, 2014

Wheelings & Dealings: Look Who's Coming to Dinner

By Maurice Nagle
TMCnet Web Editor

In the constantly shifting online commerce landscape, a seismic event was announced today.  Priceline, the online travel company (and neighbor to TMC (News - Alert) office headquarters) agreed to purchase Open Table, the online restaurant booking service, for $2.6 billion.  The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.  

This represents a 46 percent premium for Open Table and gives Priceline access to OpenTable’s more than 31,000 client establishments.

The travel giant has been interested in OpenTable for awhile, increasingly so after TripAdvisor purchased Lafourechette, a reservation service touting more than 12,000 client restaurants. 

Acquisitions are not new for Priceline, in the past decade we’ve seen the purchases of and Kayak. 

In recent years, Priceline has invested in ways to expand their business and keep revenue growing.  The two companies make nice bedfellows in this regard because OpenTable gains 80 percent of its revenue within the U.S. borders whereas Priceline is the exact opposite earning the vast majority of its revenue overseas.

OpenTable is an appealing company because the market has room to expand, in particular on mobile devices and outside the United States.  

Priceline’s chief executive was quoted by the WSJ as saying, “The kind of work we do is very similar…It’s just a different marketplace.”  Priceline’s user base will soon see exponential growth with the addition of the 15 million people a month making reservations on OpenTable.

“We see this deal as likely part of Priceline’s move into offering a much broader range of local e-commerce services to what is a very attractive customer set,” said Mark Mahaney, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, in a research note reported by Bloomberg (News - Alert). “We believe this deal is a no-brainer.”

The plan will allow OpenTable to fun, for the most part, autonomously.  This is similar to the purchase of, who today is making a herculean stamp in the travel reservations market.

"OpenTable is a great match for The Priceline Group. They provide us with a natural extension into restaurant marketing services and a wonderful and highly-valued booking experience for our global customers," Priceline CEO Darren Huston told CNN.

This is an interesting purchase because there is certainly an opportunity for social media interaction. Google acquired Zagat back in 2011 and Facebook (News - Alert) is already working with OpenTable. 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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