The world’s largest online-travel company

Speaking of legacy companies, here's The Economist on Priceline:

But Mr Fogel, a former investment banker and trader, has worked at Priceline for 16 years and is credited with initiating the deal. Asked about his firm’s success, he attributes some of it to letting acquired firms go about their business. Kayak, an aggregator of travel listings that Priceline purchased for $1.8bn in 2012, for instance, still retains separate headquarters in Connecticut, six miles away from Priceline.
And then there are the lessons of the firm’s own history. One is not to try too many things at once. During the dotcom boom the firm took the “name your own price” concept to extremes, allowing people to bid on petrol, groceries and even mortgages. The ensuing bust was bleak: Priceline’s market value dropped by more than 99%, to $190m (the share price is up by 30,000% since that trough). That experience taught management to prize discipline and profitability. The corporate ethos today is one of a “workhorse, not show-pony”, says one person close to the firm.

Two great lessons:

  1. Acquire companies you trust to run their own businesses, then let them do that. 
  2. Don't try to boil the ocean. Even Amazon started out selling books and not everything on day one.


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