Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

Fifteen years ago, Expedia took flight under the wings of Microsoft as a maker of CD-ROM travel guides. Today, it is a giant of online travel, with more than 2,000 employees in Bellevue and a market value of $7.7 billion.

Expedia celebrated 15 years in business last week with presentations by CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Chairman Barry Diller. We’re told an Expedia flash mob with 150 employees also appeared on stage at Meydenbauer Center during the festivities.

“Expedia.com is truly a company of visionaries,” said Khosrowshahi. “The launch of the company 15 years ago has fundamentally changed the way that people around the world dream about, plan, and book travel and share their travel experiences.”

Rich Barton

We’ll have more time to talk about the Expedia legacy in Seattle on Thursday at the GeekWire Meetup, featuring Expedia founder and former CEO Rich Barton.

Started as a division of Microsoft in 1996, Expedia has morphed and changed multiple times over the past 15 years. It is now gearing up for its latest incarnation, spinning off the TripAdvisor review site which boasts some 50 million monthly visitors. (Expected to be completed by the end of the year).

In case you missed it, Expedia also was the subject of our Name That Tech Tune contest earlier this month on GeekWire.

The original Expedia logo

While Expedia has been around for a long time, it often gets overshadowed in Seattle. (Perhaps because of its long-line of corporate parents, or due to Amazon.com’s rapid growth).

Nonetheless, Expedia certainly has to go down as one of Microsoft’s must successful spin-offs.

And here’s a look at that Expedia flash mob, which we’re told also include participation from CEO Khosrowshahi.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    Expedia has more than 9,000 employees. Please correct the statistics.

    • johnhcook

      I should have been more clear above. The 2,000 figure is employees at the Bellevue HQ. Thanks for pointing that out. I’ve pointed that out now.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for updating it:). Bellevue offices (Expedia building and Skyline building) have way above 3000 employees:).

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for updating it:). Bellevue offices (Expedia building and Skyline building) have way above 3000 employees:).

        • johnhcook

          I’ll look into that. Here’s directly from the press release:

          The company started out in a small building in East Bellevue before moving to its present-day global headquarters in Downtown Bellevue in 2008, where today more than 2,000 employees are based.

        • johnhcook

          I’ll look into that. Here’s directly from the press release:

          The company started out in a small building in East Bellevue before moving to its present-day global headquarters in Downtown Bellevue in 2008, where today more than 2,000 employees are based.

          • johnhcook

            Here’s the update on the headcount at Expedia. They have about 8,900 full-time and part-time employees, including the 1,860 people who work for eLong.

          • johnhcook

            Here’s the update on the headcount at Expedia. They have about 8,900 full-time and part-time employees, including the 1,860 people who work for eLong.

  • Anonymous

    Expedia has more than 9,000 employees. Please correct the statistics.

  • http://stevemurch.typepad.com Steve Murch

    I remember back in 1993, sharing an office with Rich Barton at Microsoft, when Greg Slyngstad (the original GM of “Microsoft Travel”, later Expedia) came in and they debated, over a whiteboard, whether there might be more people who would buy a series of multimedia CD-ROMs about travel — the first ones being about France and perhaps America — or whether there was more profound long-term opportunity in the “online travel agent”, which was originally going to be an adjunct to the CD-ROM library.  We would shuffle down to the shared computer that was connected to the web, and look at Netscape.  It’s kind of amazing to me that this was only 18 years ago.

    Rich deserves a ton of credit for building a fantastic team, vision and company, leading it through spinout and IPO, and well into its meteoric growth.  He’s smart, charismatic, thinks big, and is prescient.  By slapping down a travel agent’s ID card with Steve Ballmer’s picture on it at a boardroom meeting one day, and asking Steve whether he wanted to be a travel agent, he put into sharp relief the tradeoff Microsoft had to make.  He was the first person to ever convince Microsoft’s board that a spin-out would be a better long-term monetization plan for both the growing online travel business and Microsoft (and, with Expedia’s market cap around $8 billion, he was right).  

    Greg (Slyngstad) – a remarkable leader himself, not prone to overstatement – once mentioned in about 2000 that he looked back at the old revenue projections that they first made, and that they tracked nearly perfectly to reality.

    One other thing worth noting here — not everyone was convinced that investing in online travel was a good idea.  There was a pretty famous internal memo at Microsoft by Nathan Mhryvold, who roundly criticized “e-commerce” efforts like Expedia, saying that it would be a race to the bottom in margins, and that — and I think I’m quoting here — “we ought to be doing more original content businesses like Slate, not Expedia”.  

     

    • http://twitter.com/Rich_Barton Rich Barton

      Thanks, Steve.  I’m glad you didn’t bring up the demo i did in 1995 at a Consumer Division Meeting dressed up in a Sombrero and showing “Microsoft Travel for Bob” (anyone remember Bob? hint: SUI) where the “character” was an annoying talking parrot who kept asking “Where do you want to go today? squawk”  I think there was something about a taking care of Maples’ monkey, as well :-) 

      Anyway, congratulations to all current and former Expedians on your 15th anniversary since launch of Expedia 1.0.   We always dreamed about becoming “the largest seller of travel in the world” and Dhiren Fonseca (Expedia Exec and good buddy) tells me that this goal was achieved recently.  Something close to $30B a year in travel is sold by the company.  Makes me really proud.  Congratulations, all. 
      Rich

      • http://stevemurch.typepad.com Steve Murch

        >> “sombrero video”

        I still have the video Rich :-)   Followed by Music Central, “you can put your stash in there”…

  • http://stevemurch.typepad.com Steve Murch

    I remember back in 1993, sharing an office with Rich Barton at Microsoft, when Greg Slyngstad (the original GM of “Microsoft Travel”, later Expedia) came in and they debated, over a whiteboard, whether there might be more people who would buy a series of multimedia CD-ROMs about travel — the first ones being about France and perhaps America — or whether there was more profound long-term opportunity in the “online travel agent”, which was originally going to be an adjunct to the CD-ROM library.  We would shuffle down to the shared computer that was connected to the web, and look at Netscape.  It’s kind of amazing to me that this was only 18 years ago.

    Rich deserves a ton of credit for building a fantastic team, vision and company, leading it through spinout and IPO, and well into its meteoric growth.  He’s smart, charismatic, thinks big, and is prescient.  By slapping down a travel agent’s ID card with Steve Ballmer’s picture on it at a boardroom meeting one day, and asking Steve whether he wanted to be a travel agent, he put into sharp relief the tradeoff Microsoft had to make.  He was the first person to ever convince Microsoft’s board that a spin-out would be a better long-term monetization plan for both the growing online travel business and Microsoft (and, with Expedia’s market cap around $8 billion, he was right).  

    Greg (Slyngstad) – a remarkable leader himself, not prone to overstatement – once mentioned in about 2000 that he looked back at the old revenue projections that they first made, and that they tracked nearly perfectly to reality.

    One other thing worth noting here — not everyone was convinced that investing in online travel was a good idea.  There was a pretty famous internal memo at Microsoft by Nathan Mhryvold, who roundly criticized “e-commerce” efforts like Expedia, saying that it would be a race to the bottom in margins, and that — and I think I’m quoting here — “we ought to be doing more original content businesses like Slate, not Expedia”.  

     

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