By Leena Rao
In April, Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) announced its intentions to spin off trip reviews site TripAdvisor as a public company. And this morning, TripAdvisor debuted on the NASDAQ under the symbol TRIP. This morning, TripAdvisor is trading at $29. Expedia is trading at $27.72, down 50 percent.
TripAdvisor, which was founded in 2000, was originally bought by IAC in for $212 million in 2004. IAC spun off Expedia, which included TripAdvisor, in 2005. With 50 million unique monthly visitors and 20 million members, TripAdvisor is the giant in the travel reviews space. The site publishes 25 new contributions every minute and also features over eight million candid traveler photos. The reviews site operates in 30 different countries, including in China under the site Daodao. IAC chairman and CEO Barry Diller will serve as the TripAdvisor’s chairman.
The company appears to be increasing revenues by 30 percent quarterly, although Expedia warned in October that the newly public company’s profit margins “will be under a bit of pressure” as result of the spin-off. The company’s main revenue stream is cost-per-click advertising.
As CEO and co-founder Stephen Kaufer explained to us in an interview, the evolution of TripAdvisor into an independent, public company is about “unlocking shareholder value.” Kaufer says that the company will continue to ramp up its social and mobile efforts as a public company in 2012.
TripAdvisor debuted an in-depth social personalization effort with Facebook and so far 57 million users have signed up with their Facebook account to receive social recommendations and advice on the reviews platform. “We’re huge believers in getting travel advice from friends,” Kaufer says. While he wouldn’t comment directly on what new social features are in store for the company, he did say that TripAdvisor is looking at further opportunities, especially in mobile, and will continue to look at acquisitions as a way to expand.
Vacation rentals has also been another area where TripAdvisor has been expanding. While the company offers 200,000 vacation rental property listings worldwide, TripAdvisor will be looking to build its vacation rentals business in Europe and Asia, says Kaufer.