As Shares Trade Higher, Kayak CEO Says the IPO Went Exactly as Planned

After a long-delayed public offering, Kayak co-founder and CEO Steve Hafner said he wouldn’t have done anything differently.

“In terms of the IPO, no,” Hafner said in an interview with AllThingsD, after ringing the Nasdaq opening bell. “It went exactly like I wanted it to.”

Kayak originally filed to go public nearly 21 months ago, and while it kept its registration up to date, the company put the offering off due to a poor economy and direct influences in the travel industry.

“Google purchased ITA Software and that caused some consternation, but now that they’ve been in the market for 18 months, you can see for yourself our financial results,” Hafner said. “There were never any starts and stops with the IPO. When we thought the time was right and the story would be well-received, we were ready, and that day was today.”

While waiting for the right window, Kayak was indeed able to disclose strong operating results, including four consecutive quarters of profitable growth.

In the first quarter of 2012, it reported a profit of $8.1 million, reversing a loss of $12 million in the same period a year earlier. (The loss was mostly attributable to a $15 million impairment charge related to the discontinuation of the SideStep brand name.) Revenue in the first quarter totaled $73.3 million, compared to $52.7 million a year earlier.

In the offering, the online travel company raised $100 million after selling 3.5 million shares for $26 apiece. The shares priced slightly above the $22 to $25 range that Kayak disclosed last week. In early trading this morning, the stock climbed higher by $6.68, or roughly 26 percent, to $32.68. UPDATE: At the end of the regular session, Kayak’s stock was up nearly 28 percent, or $7.18 a share, to close at $33.18.

Both Hafner and the company’s co-founder and CTO Paul English (pictured right and left, respectively), said now that the offering has been completed, they are eager to get back to work.

On deck, English said, is a continued focus on the mobile sector. To date, Kayak’s applications have been downloaded 17 million times, but English sees it as a big opportunity, unlike Facebook, which is having a hard time monetizing as its user base shifts to phones and tablets.

“Our view on mobile is very different than Facebook,” he said. “Kayak is an e-commerce site, and whether they have a vacation coming up or a business trip, they need to make a purchase and they are increasingly making purchases on the phone, or sometimes in combination on the phone and the Web. We don’t really care what platform they use, but they are using [mobile] a lot.”


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