Google Inc. is in talks to acquire ITA Software Inc., a maker of travel programs used by companies including Orbitz Worldwide Inc. and Microsoft Corp., three people familiar with the matter said.
ITA Software, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, may seek about $1 billion, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions haven’t been made public. The talks may not lead to a transaction, said the people.
With tools that help users find flight information online, ITA Software may help Google compete with travel-search features offered by Microsoft. The companies are tussling for share in the U.S. market for online travel, which generated $88.4 billion in sales last year, according to Sherman, Connecticut travel consulting firm PhoCusWright Inc.
Those on the ITA side of the fence that include General Catalyst Partners and Sequoia Capital are not talking. What that means is anyone’s guess but the folks at ITA are staying mum as well.
The wisdom behind such an acquisition by Google is that there may be concern that search market share is being lost to Microsoft because of bing’s travel search capabilities. While nothing was stated about margins etc, one would figure that any industry generating $88 billion in sales is going to make Google take notice. Once Google takes notice these days it seems like their next move is to take over as well.
And hey, what better way to rain on Microsoft’s advantage than to buy the company that is powering the back end of Microsoft’s offering?! Classic Google. Even if they weren’t making money from the search angle they would still get some MS bucks through fees and licensing. Even more interesting is if this went through and Microsoft decided they needed to do something different it would be a huge hassle to Microsoft. Just that kind of business disruption to a major competitor alone may be worth Google’s investment.
This is purely rumor at this point but as they say “Where there’s smoke there’s fire”. Maybe that phrase should be changed to “Where there’s money, there’s Google”.