Priceline buys Seattle hotel marketing startup Buuteeq

 

Buuteeq powers the Web site and apps for Explora

Buuteeq powers the Web site and apps for travel company Explora

Buuteeq, a Seattle startup that powers the Web sites for hotels around the world, was acquired today by Priceline in a deal of undisclosed size.

Buuteeq will continue to operate as an independent business within The Priceline Group, joining other units such as Booking.com and Kayak.

Buuteeq CEO Forest Key

Buuteeq CEO Forest Key

“We are delighted to welcome Buuteeq as the newest member of The Priceline Group,” said Darren Huston, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Priceline Group, in a statement. “Buuteeq has built an innovative, cloud-based marketing platform that we see playing a key role in helping us deliver even more value to our global accommodations partners worldwide.”

We’ve reached out to Buuteeq CEO and co-founder Forest Key for comment and we’ll update this post as we learn more.

Interestingly, three of the top execs at Buuteeq — Key, Cameron Steele and Adam Brownstein — grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley, attending Palo Alto High School in the late 80s. In addition to Brownstein and Key, the company was co-founded by former Microsoft manager Brian Saab.

The company raised $10 million in funding in 2012 from Madrona Venture Group, Concur Technologies and others. That followed $5 million that had previously been invested in the company, including cash from angel investors Geoff Entress, Mike Galgon, Andy Liu, Kelly Smith, Jeremy Irish and others.

Buuteeq recently moved to larger offices in Seattle’s Lower Queen Anne neighborhood. It employs about 200 people, including operations in Chile where co-founder Brownstein is based and Palo Alto, Calif.

Members of the Buuteeq team in Seattle.

Members of the Buuteeq team in Seattle.

Buuteeq charges customers a monthly fee to use its service, which includes everything from Web site creation tools to an online booking engine to SEO offerings. Hotel customers range from small bed and breakfasts like The Greenlake Guest House in Seattle to the 500-room MGM Grand hotel in Vietnam.

Key came up with the idea for Buuteeq in 2010 after he struggled to find the Web site of The Datai Hotel in Malaysia and wondered why there wasn’t a better way to discover unique hotels online.

Shares of Priceline are up more nearly 50 percent in the past 12 months, with the company now boasting a market value of $64 billion. The Norwalk, Conn.-based company posted a gross profit of $1.4 billion during the first quarter, a 39 percent increase over the same period last year.

Madrona’s Tim Porter, an early investor in Buuteeq, said the acquisition was a fantastic outcome for employees and shareholders.

“Buuteeq will complement Priceline’s existing efforts in hotel marketing solutions and is strategic to Priceline’s plans over the next several years,” Porter said. “We are also very pleased that all Buuteeq employees became employees of Priceline, and Priceline will continue to invest in building the buuteeq headquarters here in Seattle. Forest and the team have done a tremendous job successfully building the business to this point. This was a real win-win for all involved.:

  • Rob Green

    Great win, Forest!

  • Dan Levitan

    Congrats Adam and our friends at Madrona!

  • http://www.jpmmedia.com Jason Massey

    #awesome #stuff!! Good job guys!

  • nparekh00

    Congrats Forest and Team!

  • Aaron Easterly

    Woohoo! Way to go Forest and team!

  • Hmmmmmm

    Great Home Run for all involved!

    • http://www.hrabaconsulting.com/blog HHotelconsult

      Except for the hotel clients, possibly? I am absolutely baffled by this. Is this this just startup culture, then… people who don’t give a damn about the hospitality industry… just more people in it for money?

      • Nick

        This wasn’t about money, it’s about growth.
        buuteeq is still operating independently, they just now have the resources to grow exponentially.

        • Hmmmmmm

          Pretty sure an 12x return is about the money!

          • http://www.hrabaconsulting.com/blog HHotelconsult

            I am just concerned how quiet it’s been for clients. Saying Money & Resources isn’t enough.

            Priceline is the bad guy, one of our biggest competitors.

            Frankly, it is one we consider to be extorting us as an archaic middleman whose time has passed. As they lose steam, they are looking for leverage, and now they own 6000 small, boutique hotel websites. Not big brands and flags, but small businesses struggling to survive, families and small groups, who have just been married to what they consider the bane of their existence.

            Think about that. Priceline, our competitor, owns all our websites, and presumably the data, that are built on the idea of driving direct bookings to us, not them. The SaaS Cloud model was *ALWAYS* a concern for conservative hoteliers. I know everyone says the cloud is the future… and sure…. for certain things.

            We worried about engineered downtime at co-lo’s, etc (slightly), access (a lot), security (massive – from guest credit card info to being on servers with other biz subpeoned / hacked)…

            *BUT* we *NEVER* thought there would be a possibility of our opponents being able to access our private datas. I am not saying they will be, but there are so many questions about what just happened, and how it effects clients.

            Small, boutique, independent hotels choose buuteeq because it is an affordable option to the privately owned server, $40,000 built out website, etc… but like I said, we always had reservations about now owning the site. I am glad, because now I see why.

            I am not jumping the gun… Buuteeq is an incredibly active brand online, on all channels… and I consider Forest and a number of people there quite good friends. VERY. I am happy for them, and I have two hotels running on their platform.

            But they have gone absolutely radio silent, and if it’s champagne at the expense of clients, sitting here, wondering what the hell is going on… I am saddened. I really, *really* trust these guys, but I saw what Micros did to T.I.G. If you don’t know about it, then you aren’t in our industry, and again, that’s a problem…. because you will have a total disconnect of why we will be so very, very skeptical of this.

            There’s absolutely no reason in any way the hotel industry should have faith in this, unless they start assuaging the absolutely legitimate fears we have, as this is celebrated in tech blogs.

          • Hmmmmmm

            Makes it even more about the money — and less about their clients!

  • BrentR

    Congrats to the Buuteeq team!

  • Red Russak

    Woohoo! Congrats Forest and to the Buuteeq family overall! Another big win for Seattle :-)

  • Monica Treacy

    Great news! And thanks Darren Huston!!!

  • Lee Sherman

    Love seeing this happen. Great idea and execution by all!

  • Kevin Nakao

    Great to see a nice outcome for Forest who made building a great work culture a priority along with their chief product officer Karim!

  • http://www.appyhotel.com/ Nick Baker

    Congratulations on the purchase, a new and exciting stage for everyone. With the increase in online booking the demand for hotels to have their own app or website is only going to grow. We’re finding that many of our hotelier clients are coming to us with a need for expediency in getting set up with personalized apps available in as little as 10 minutes. Nick Baker – http://www.appyhotel.com

  • http://picnpostusa.com/ Abel Aaron

    Good job done, Forest!

  • Thiago

    Seems like a good move on their part. There are lot of people that use those hotels. Owning the startup is going to make an established business more innovative. Thiago | http://www.ceahotel.com.au/canberra/hotel-accommodation-canberra