Kayak plays it smart by putting IPO on hold

Although Kayak has announced plans to go public, there's no shame in waiting a little longer if it's the right move for the company.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Kayak filed an initial public offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last November to raise up to $50 million.

Now, plans have been delayed a bit.

Kayak’s chief marketing officer Robert Birge told AllThingsD that the travel site is holding off because "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 would be easy to look at this and immediately assume that there's trouble at Kayak. That's definitely true to some extent, but there's no shame in waiting a little longer if it's the right move for the company.

Fortune's senior editor Dan Primack argues that this move is actually overdue:

For Kayak, therefore, the banker suggests it should have pulled the moment Google announced the ITA acquisition received regulatory approval to acquire ITA Software (it had been part of a coalition that lobbied to block the deal). It wouldn't have suffered the negative stigma of a failed offering, because the decision would not have been a direct reflection on the company's underlying financials. Just an acknowledgement of some exogenous upheaval, with Kayak able to later re-file with a story about how it had analyzed the threat, responded to it and become ready to move forward.

Pushing to go public before the company is ready has the potential to become a big mess. Just look at Groupon. The daily deal site filed an IPO with the goal to raise up to $750 million, but that story has taken some sour turns as of late. That drama has the potential to scare off both investors and customers alike.

Other companies, valued at billions more than Kayak or Groupon, have shown that it's okay to wait to file an IPO. Although rumors constantly swirl that Twitter and Facebook are finally going to go public, neither one has announced anything to that effect just yet.

Thus, Kayak is making the smart and right move to hold off and better prepare itself to go public at a later date when it is ready.


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