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Q/A with Internet Brands (purchase of FlyerTalk)

Q/A with Internet Brands (purchase of FlyerTalk)

 
Old Mar 7, 07, 8:47 am
  #1  
Founder of FlyerTalk
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Q/A with Internet Brands (purchase of FlyerTalk)

For the members of FlyerTalk:
There are likely to be many questions regarding FlyerTalk and the recent purchase by Internet Brands. So, I've asked them to respond to these questions:

What motivated Internet Brands to buy FlyerTalk?
IB considered FT to be unique in terms of its position among business travelers, and that was a customer segment not served by our other travel sites.

How will FlyerTalk be effected by the new ownership?
No significant changes are planned, as the site and community already function very effectively.

How will this change of ownership effect FlyerTalk's future relationship with other sites such as WebFlyer and FlyerTalk?
A close working relationship is expected to be maintained between these sites, with no significant changes.

What type of changes can we anticipate to the FlyerTalk Web site in the future?
The team at FlyerTalk has had ongoing product development planning underway, and that will continue with the added resources of IB. However, no major change is foreseen in the direction the site is evolving.

In what ways will the Moderators be effected by the change of ownership of the site?
No changes are planned for the leadership of FlyerTalk, either with the moderators or the Talk Board (members elected into a governance role).

Will Randy still be involved with FlyerTalk going forward? What role will he play?
Yes, Randy will have a very active role with FlyerTalk for years to come, largely unchanged from his role to date.

Will there be any changes in the way that the TalkBoard oversees the direction of the site in the future?
No, there aren't any plans for changes there.

Are there any enhancements planned for the site in the future?
Yes, though largely from the existing FlyerTalk, rather than changes being proposed from the IB team.

Will FT premium still be offered going forward?
Yes, this is a good example of how FlyerTalk will continue to work cooperatively with the other sites.
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Old Mar 7, 07, 8:55 am
  #2  
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As you'll see from their answers, FlyerTalk really isn't going to change and as they note, I am in the same role as I am now over the next four years.

We have many things going on now and Internet Brands wants us to continue with the very same things that got us here.

Among the things going on are:
- The permanent FlyerTalk Cares program so members can participate and become aware of the many charity efforts of FlyerTalk and its members.

- A formal Moderator Mentoring program that will standardize the training that each volunteer gets before becoming a moderator. This will actually help reduce the backlog of interested moderators for our growing forums.

- The introduction of new benefits for our members.

- The introduction of a new templating program for members wanting to sponsor and host Members Dos. This will allow an easy system to set up a Do web site right here on FlyerTalk with all the tools to manage the events of these popular member get-togethers.

And much, much more.

Bottom line - spend your time enjoying FlyerTalk and as Internet Brands says, they like FT because of the way it works now.
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Old Mar 7, 07, 9:30 am
  #3  
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Congratulations on the transaction, Randy.

What are the other sites owned by IB?
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Old Mar 7, 07, 9:34 am
  #4  
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C'mon, Randy, just whisper it in my ear.... how much!?!?!?!
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Old Mar 7, 07, 9:34 am
  #5  
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Internet Brands Travel Web sites:
BBOnline.com is one of the largest directories of B&Bs in the U.S., Canada and worldwide. BBOnline delivers highly cost-effective traffic to innkeepers.

CruiseMates.com provides in-depth editorial coverage of the cruise industry, including professional reviews of all major ships. The traveler's perspective is provided in both reader reviews and message boards.

CruiseReviews.com provides traveler reviews of virtually every cruise ship, spanning luxury lines to river cruises. Port reviews are also provided, along with an active community of forum participants.

VacationHomes.com lists distinctive rental properties in over 1,100 destinations worldwide. For property owners, VacationHomes provides highly cost-effective advertising, reaching travelers exactly at the time when they are making their plans.

Vamoose.com is the world's largest directory of vacation rentals. Using powerful and simple-to-use search technology, travelers have free access to hundreds of thousands of listings. With a pay-per-click model, properties only pay for people who actually visit their site.

Wikitravel.org is the leading worldwide travel guide that is based entirely on the contributions of its community. Inspired by Wikipedia.org, the site has guides in nine languages and is growing exponentially in terms of both traffic and editorial contributions.

World66.com is also a leading and rapidly growing worldwide travel guide based on wiki technology. The site has extensive travel listings and reviews on hotels, restaurants, and things to do.

Originally Posted by Gaucho100K View Post
Congratulations on the transaction, Randy.

What are the other sites owned by IB?
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Old Mar 7, 07, 9:47 am
  #6  
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Far, far less than you might think. Let's see, literally no profits (first break even year was last year) so what's a multiple of nothing? Because the Web site is a possible copyright transaction - 40% federal and state tax category. Personal investment over the past almost nine years in the hundreds and hundreds of thousands. So, i'm trying to whisper but nothing is coming out. My reward? Great satisfaction in knowing that I have helped in the process of tens of thousands of frequent flyers get better at their travels..... just like the MasterCard commercial, that is "priceless" to me. Besides, it it was much, why the heck would i want to stay around for another four years - this ain't no presidential election you know!

Somehow i knew you'd be the one to ask me.... but you're no Maria Bartiromo!

Originally Posted by kokonutz View Post
C'mon, Randy, just whisper it in my ear.... how much!?!?!?!
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Old Mar 7, 07, 10:44 am
  #7  
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I suppose this leads me to the next question, to which you may not know the answer:

Companies do not buy an entity of any kind simply as a hobby.

This leads me to believe that Internet Brands sees the ability to potentially profit from FlyerTalk either directly or indirectly otherwise, they would not have acquired FlyerTalk. After all, Internet Brands certainly does not have the emotional interest and investment in FlyerTalk that you have, Randy.

If the first break-even year was last year, what changes does Internet Brands have in mind for FlyerTalk to ensure that it is profitable for them? Or, does Internet Brands see FlyerTalk as a way of augmenting and increasing the value of their other holdings? Perhaps it is a combination of both scenarios?
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Old Mar 7, 07, 11:04 am
  #8  
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Fair question:
While I really don't know their overall strategy, i am comfortable in commenting from my POV. They obviously got to know me and know well my views that community comes first and I'm not inclined to monetize FT much more than to cover its costs. The fact that they really wanted me to stay around for four years sort of proves to me that they aren't interested in making that many changes to FT right away and maybe not much over the next four years. What they may see is the tremendous traffic that FlyerTalk has and by perhaps spilling some of that traffic over time to their other Web sites, that may be how this all works out for them. They've got a few good sites and my guess is that they will get much better over time. WikiTravel is an amazing resource and I think members of FT should be pleased to have such a relative as that.

I can say this. One of the major reasons I was so comfortable with Internet Brands and while they are a corporation, they are really entrepreneurial in nature. I really hit it off with the head guy, Bob Brisco and he's quite the flexible guy. I'm sure I drove them crazy in the conversations we had because I don't talk "the business," I talk the topic of the power of the Internet, the community of travelers, the things i like about FlyerTalk, etc.

Anyway, I really don't see any changes on the horizon. Besides, the deal was done over a month ago and have you noticed anything different?


Originally Posted by Canarsie View Post
I suppose this leads me to the next question, to which you may not know the answer:

Companies do not buy an entity of any kind simply as a hobby.

This leads me to believe that Internet Brands sees the ability to potentially profit from FlyerTalk either directly or indirectly otherwise, they would not have acquired FlyerTalk. After all, Internet Brands certainly does not have the emotional interest and investment in FlyerTalk that you have, Randy.

If the first break-even year was last year, what changes does Internet Brands have in mind for FlyerTalk to ensure that it is profitable for them? Or, does Internet Brands see FlyerTalk as a way of augmenting and increasing the value of their other holdings? Perhaps it is a combination of both scenarios?
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Old Mar 7, 07, 11:45 am
  #9  
 
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Originally Posted by Randy Petersen View Post
Anyway, I really don't see any changes on the horizon. Besides, the deal was done over a month ago and have you noticed anything different?
Randy,

I personally believe this to be a great question - and the answer (at least my personal answer) is two sided:

1) I haven't noticed anything different in the past month, and this certainly is a very positive thing. On the flip side...it has only been a month - so I can't say I'm confident at this point. Us FTers obviously take FT personally - it's our playground, knowledge base, and most importantly our community ... which leads me to #2

2) I really like all of the conversation in regards to the "sale" of FlyerTalk. It just proves to me that once again the users are what make FlyerTalk what it is. I know that you realize this Randy, and I can only hope (and honestly I believe) that the new "owner/s" (you'll always be the real owner Randy) will view it this way as well.

Thank you for making FlyerTalk what it is today - and thanks for sticking around for the upcoming years!

All the best,
Chris
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Old Mar 7, 07, 11:55 am
  #10  
 
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I would think IB has the smarts to know that FT is as fragile as the rain forest and treading lightly would keep it prospering.
Based on Randy's comments this would appear to be the case. In the worst case scenario should FT turn into a demented circus (heaven forbid) I think I know Randy well enough to say a new website named 'TavelerTalk' would show up, complete with an Omni forum and very familiar feel.
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Old Mar 7, 07, 12:17 pm
  #11  
 
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Originally Posted by Randy Petersen View Post
I'm sure I drove them crazy in the conversations we had because I don't talk "the business," I talk the topic of the power of the Internet, the community of travelers, the things i like about FlyerTalk, etc.
Congratulations on the deal, Randy .

(Just as a sidenote and a general comment not directly related to this situation, if I was to acquire a company, I think I'd like it if the person who runs it doesn't talk "the business" that much, because it'd probably mean that I might a) possibly be able to acquire the business at a lower price than if that person was focused on the money first, b) it might lead me to believe that I could monetize the business more/better than it had been done so far .)
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Old Mar 7, 07, 1:06 pm
  #12  
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Originally Posted by Randy Petersen View Post
Far, far less than you might think. Let's see, literally no profits (first break even year was last year) so what's a multiple of nothing?
I guess you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Who could forget how a profitless on-line greeting card company was sold for almost $800 million during the height of the internet bubble.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/30/te...erland&emc=rss

Whatever they paid, I suspect Internet Brands is getting a bargain. Flyertalkers are a loyal and upper-income bunch, and "everybody" knows this is one the best and most useful travel websites out there. Travel is a perfect fit for the web, so the potential to monetize the value of Flyertalk should be enormous.

I just hope the new owners don't screw it up. And thanks, Randy, for making this wonderful site possible.
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Old Mar 7, 07, 1:18 pm
  #13  
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Congratulations Randy!! It seems like the deal is a winner for you. I appreciate all you've put (and from what you've posted, will) put into FlyerTalk as a community and website. Thanks!!

Last edited by GoingAway; Mar 7, 07 at 4:27 pm Reason: typo in FT :o
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Old Mar 7, 07, 1:32 pm
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Congratulations as well.

Although I nearly hope they will change a lot and drive everybody away, that would give me back a huge portion of time I do now spend on Fliyertalk.

It might be helpful for concerned FT that this company also does have access to Wikitravel.org and therefor should be aware of community processes and alike, it does not look like they are new to the business.

Although I am well aware that 'we' provide the content and the community, there is also a part which needs to take care of the infrastructure around our toy and favorite site - and I do see no problem how this can be benefitiary to IB as well as to us.
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Old Mar 7, 07, 1:37 pm
  #15  
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'we' posters are part of FT's success, but so is this FT board.

Thank you 'founding father', and congratulations for your success with FT and now for selling it successfully.
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