Episode 41: Booking.com with Jetsetter & Room 77 CEO Drew Patterson

Acquired trains its lens on the “second or third best acquisition of all-time”, Priceline’s 2005 purchase of Booking.com. Our heroes are joined by friend-of-the-show and former Jetsetter & Room 77 CEO Drew Patterson to help understand how this little-known startup from The Netherlands grew into the largest travel company in the world, with nearly $8B in annual revenue. Was this deal even better than Instagram??? We debate, hotly. 

Topics covered include:

  • The biggest startup you’ve never heard of (in the US), Booking.com, and its parent company Priceline (yes, the William Shatner Priceline)
  • Booking’s founding in Amsterdam in late 1996: by recent college graduate Geert-Jan Bruinsma
  • Skift.com’s Definitive Oral History of Online Travel
  • The travel industry's GDS's (“Global Distribution Systems”) and the development of Sabre 
  • How Bruinsma raised the initial money for Booking: by emailing anyone he know who had an email address 
  • OTAs ("Online Travel Agencies”) and how they operate; the "merchant model" versus the “agency model"
  • The role of search in online travel 
  • Bill Gurley on Conversion: The Most Important Internet Metric of All
  • Expedia’s early flirtation with Booking, and decision not to acquire the company
  • Priceline head of M&A Glenn Fogel’s vision for how powerful the agency model for OTAs could become in Europe
  • Priceline and Glenn's 2004 acquisition of Active Hotels in the UK, followed by the 2005 acquisition of Booking for $133M and the combination of the two businesses into Booking.com 
  • Booking’s incredible growth in the decade since the acquisition, from less than 20M room-nights to over 500M, and $7.8B in revenue in 2016

The Carve Out:


  • Thanks to Silicon Valley Bank for sponsoring this episode. If you'd like to learn more or start a banking relationship, you can get in touch with Shai Goldman here.