Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Kayak's IPO Filing: We Don't Depend on Search Engines

Travel search provider Kayak today filed with the SEC for an IPO worth $50 million, with no price per share specified. But it did specify a bunch of stuff about its business in its S-1.

The Kayak iPad app

Kayak had revenue of $128 million for net income of $6.2 million through Sept. 30 of this year, up from $86.6 million in revenue and net income of $10.4 million last year. The company significantly increased its marketing spending in that period to $69.1 million from $36.0 million. It has been profitable since 2008.

Kayak is in a bit of a precarious position, since it licenses fare information from ITA Software, which Google has agreed to buy. This is a significant expense; Kayak said in the filing it expects to pay ITA $21 million from the beginning of 2010 to the end of 2012. The company admitted that Google messing with ITA could have a “significant negative effect” on its business.

However, Kayak sought to declare its independence from search, saying very little of its traffic comes from Google and the like. The company contended this is because its users are loyal to its brand. So far this year, 72 percent of Kayak queries came from direct visitors to its site, 15 percent from advertising and only eight percent from users referred by search engines. Kayak had 469 million user queries through Sept. 30, with year-over-year growth of 37 percent.

Kayak also has a contract to show Google ads. The filing reports that 15 percent of Kayak advertising revenue so far this year has come from Google, and eight percent of total revenue (the other source of Kayak revenues is referrals).

Kayak is trying to push itself as a mobile growth story, with four million downloads of its mobile apps so far. The company had joked earlier this month that it was putting out its own phone (riffing on rumors of a “Facebook phone”) called the KPHONE and including features like an “actual igniting signal flare” and automatically dialing of your mom every 15 minutes “because you are a terrible person and seriously you never call.” Obviously that sense of humor doesn’t come through in the S-1.


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