Exclusive: Kayak Puts IPO Plans on Hold

Blame it on turbulent waters, but Kayak, the hotel and flight search provider, has put its IPO plans on hold as it seeks more favorable market conditions.

In an exclusive interview with AllThingsD, Robert Birge, Kayak’s chief marketing officer, said the current market is too volatile and is not meeting the company’s expectations.

“We are going to file when the market conditions are favorable to IPOs,” he said.

In the meantime, Birge said, Kayak is committed to keeping its filing up to date with the Securities and Exchange Commission, so if the conditions change, the company will be able to move quickly.

“It gives us the flexibility to respond to market conditions,” he said.

Kayak, which filed 11 months ago to raise at least $50 million, is one of roughly 200 companies that make up one of the biggest IPO backlogs in the past five years.

Two other high-profile examples are Groupon, the daily deals site that wants to raise $750 million, and Zynga, the social games maker that is seeking $1 billion in additional funding.

Kara Swisher reported last week that despite copious amounts of negative press, Groupon has no plans to back down from going public. Likewise, according to our sources, Zynga’s IPO remains on track.

Birge was not able to elaborate on the company’s plans or whether it was seeking alternate exits, like a sale or staying private and raising more cash. The Norwalk, Conn.-based company updated its filing recently to suggest it was looking at other alternatives as an IPO became less likely.

But unlike Groupon or Zynga, which filed this summer to go public, Kayak has had nearly a year to pull the trigger, which predates much of the market volatility, raising the question of why it has taken Kayak so long.

Birge said even if the market conditions are right, the SEC must sign off on the offering in order to go public.

Perhaps the market will be more favorable once there are more comparable companies with positive valuations. Already there are a number of other public competitors, including Priceline, Orbitz and Expedia.

One big public event coming up will be Expedia’s spin off of TripAdvisor, which will create two separately traded entities. In that scenario, Expedia’s results would no longer also include TripAdvisor’s advertising business, and Expedia alone could more closely resemble Kayak’s business.


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