TripIt was an innovative startup that helps users organize travel. Concur is an entrenched leader in the corporate travel world. Their fates tied together will be a playbook--or a warning--for the current generation of startups.
By Chadwick Matlin, contributor
For the past four years, a small travel startup called TripIt has been quietly rethinking the way we travel. Overwhelmed with separate confirmation codes for your flight, hotel, and rental car? Forward the confirmation emails to TripIt, and it'll aggregate them all in one easy to read schedule. Barraged by more frequent flier accounts than you even realize you signed up for? TripIt will track it, and put it in your pocket through its smartphone app. Finding it hard to keep track of where all your employees are in the field? Have TripIt map them for you. The basic features are free, but as you ask TripIt to organize more of your travel, it's going to ask you for more money. Its Pro service costs $49/year.
For now, the company won't disclose how many people have signed up for that Pro plan—it just says it has millions of users overall. But there were enough of them for TripIt to go and get bought. Concur (CNQR), a firm that handles companies' travel and expense forms, purchased TripIt for as much as $120 million, based on certain triggers tied to the price of the company's stock. It's a sizable buyout for TripIt, which had collected a reported $13 million in funding. And it sounds like very little will change. All of TripIt's employees—nearly 50—will stay on with the company, and TripIt's basic service will remain open to the public.
Within the first minute of my conversation with Rajeev Singh, COO and President of Concur, it was clear why they bought TripIt in the first place. "We've been watching TripIt be a disruptive force in the travel sector for a long time," was the first thing he told me. There's an implicit logic in there: TripIt is disruptive; therefore TripIt is the future; therefore Concur should own TripIt.
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