All of the commotion about a possible Google acquisition of ITA Software has been a setback to Kayak's IPO prospects.
The betting is that a Google-ITA combo would transform Google into a major travel-metasearch player and with that kind of threat to Kayak, coupled with all of the uncertainty in the air, Kayak would be hard-pressed to price its IPO high enough to get the kind of return its investors envision, given its roughly $800 million valuation.
So, where does that leave Kayak for now?
The company is said to be hard at work breaking with metasearch orthodoxy and developing a booking capability -- not merely for its mobile apps -- but for Kayak.com, as well.
That would put Kayak into direct competition with online travel agencies like Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline and Orbitz.
Word on the street, too, is that as Kayak works on its booking acumen -- instead of merely being a referral site -- it is playing down its relatively new Private Sale offering.
You might want to chalk up Kayak Private sale as an experiment that didn't produce the hoped-for results.
Developing booking capabilities might be considered another Kayak experiment.
Wall Street likely would await the outcome of that sea-change for Kayak, as well as how Google-ITA plays out, before becoming more open to entertaining Kayak's bold IPO notions.
The thinking is that if Google becomes a serious air- and hotel-metasearch competitor, Kayak's growth prospects would be reined in.
So, where does this leave Kayak?
The company likely would be open to the wooings of a strategic buyer -- one which had very deep pockets.
Or Kayak will have to plod onward, building its product and opening new markets, and waiting to see how its prospects develop.