Google Draws New Round of Scrutiny Over ITA Deal
Even before an acquisition was announced, talks between Google and ITA software were causing a stir in the travel industry. Once Google announced its intent to acquire the company at the beginning of July for $700 million, plenty of talk about regulatory obstacles ensued.
Google announced an update on the situation today. On the company’ public policy blog, Senior Product Manager Andrew Silverman says that after meeting with many companies in the industry, Google has been encouraged by the industry support its received (from airlines to online travel agencies).
"While we think this acquisition will benefit travelers as well as those seeking their business, we know that closer scrutiny has been one consequence of Google’s success, and we said that we wouldn’t be surprised if there were a regulatory review before the deal closes," says Silverman. "This week we received what’s called a ‘second request,’ which means that the U.S. Department of Justice is asking for more information so that they can continue to review the deal."
"While this means we won’t be closing the deal right away, we’re confident that the DOJ will conclude that online travel will remain competitive after this acquisition closes," adds Silverman. "In fact, over the past few weeks online travel companies have noted that they have alternatives to ITA’s product: Kayak’s CEO called Expedia’s Best Fare Search alternative "awesome"; Orbitz said that ‘Worldspan’s e-Pricing search technology is a good solution that Travelport is devoting resources to develop. So we have alternatives available to us’; and Continental Airlines noted that ‘there are alternatives to the [ITA] shopping solution in the marketplace, both internally and externally.’"
Google said from the beginning that it intends to honor existing agreements ITA has in place.