Travel giant Expedia sends CEO packing after weak results

Visitors browse at the stand of global online travel brand Expedia during the International Tourism Trade Fair (ITB) in Berlin, Germany, March 9, 2016. — Reuters pic
Visitors browse at the stand of global online travel brand Expedia during the International Tourism Trade Fair (ITB) in Berlin, Germany, March 9, 2016. — Reuters pic

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 4 — Online travel giant Expedia announced the immediate departures today of chief executive Mark Okerstrom and chief financial officer Alan Pickerill after what the company termed “disappointing” third quarter results.

Expedia chairman Barry Diller said he and vice chairman Peter Kern would manage day-to-day operations pending the search for a new top executive.

Eric Hart, the company’s chief strategy officer, will serve as acting CFO.

Diller, who heads the holding company IAC which spun off Expedia in 2005, said the shakeup was the result of differences on strategy.

“Earlier this year, Expedia embarked on an ambitious reorganization plan with the goal of bringing our brands and technology together in a more efficient way,” Diller said in a statement.

“This reorganization, while sound in concept, resulted in a material loss of focus on our current operations, leading to disappointing third quarter results and a lackluster near-term outlook. The board disagreed with that outlook, as well as the departing leadership’s vision for growth, strongly believing the company can accelerate growth in 2020. That divergence necessitated a change in management.”

Diller said he would be buying more Expedia shares “as a tangible sign of my faith in and commitment to Expedia’s long-term future.”

Okerstrom took over as CEO in 2017 after the departure of Dara Khosrowshahi for ridesharing giant Uber.

Expedia, which faces increasing challenges from home-sharing and car-sharing services, operates its flagship travel site as well as Hotels.com, Hotwire, Travelocity, Cheaptickets, Egencia and CarRentals.com.

The disappointing results were attributed to slow growth at Vrbo, which competes with Airbnb, and Trivago, a site allowing consumers to compare hotel prices.

Expedia also saw higher costs as it moved more of its operations to the internet cloud. — AFP

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