The implications of Microsoft’s partnership with Kayak

Fri, Mar 11, 2011


Microsoft recently struck a deal whereby travel results on Bing will be powered by KAYAK, a niche travel-centric search engine that helps users find attractive deals for flights, hotels, cruises, and rental cars by scouring the net and finding the best possible deals from an assortment of sites. It’s a useful travel booking search aggregate, really.

Commenting on the deal, former Microsoft employee Jay Bhatti was effusive when detailing what the new Microsoft/Kayak partnership reveals about the Bing team and Microsoft’s overall search strategy.

Microsoft is again switching strategies. Less than 2 years ago, Bing was all about internal innovation and buying companies (Farecast, Powerset, etc) that would help it accelerate product development. Now, with this deal, Microsoft is admitting that it’s better for them to outsource innovation to vertical search engines like Kayak, as opposed to trying to build them internally

If I am on the Bing team, this is a demoralizing deal. Management is telling the Bing Travel team that they are not rock stars from Mars, that that they cannot innovate, and that it’s better to use someone else’s technology. The only Bi-Winning happening here is for Kayak and Google. A few friends of mine at Google are quite amused at Microsoft outsourcing this part of their search. Yahoo outsourced search to Bing. Bing then outsources travel search to Kayak. Talk about passing the buck.

In the interest of completeness, Kip Kniskern cautions/implies that Bhatti has some unresolved beef with Microsoft.

As an interesting piece of trivia, Kayak was founded by the co-founders of Orbitz, Travelocity, and Expedia.


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