Yesterday was day #1 in the new Seattle offices of NewTravelco, the travel startup by four Expedia alum. Also Monday, the company announced it has received $9.8 million in funding.
Simon Breakwell, one of the founders, calls from his cellphone because the office phones hadn't been installed yet and the fax machine is yet to arrive. The group does have a refrigerator, though.
Breakwell has just moved back to Seattle from Europe, where he has been consulting with Thomas Cook on its online travel agency strategy.
Breakwell, Greg Slyngstad and Sunil Shah showed up at the 2nd Ave. South offices yesterday and "Rich [Barton] drifted in," as did the telephone guy, who was there to get the phone system working, Breakwell says.
All of the above -- with the exception of the phone installer -- either helped found Expedia or worked in Redmond, Wash., out of Microsoft's offices in the early days of Expedia's birth.
"It is really fun," says Breakwell of the reunion and the chance to get back into travel with his three friends. "We were all walking around with smiles on our faces."
So, why are they back for an encore?
Breakwell hesitates a bit and then says: "Because we love it [travel]. That's all. It's a huge category and a great opportunity to work together again."
Breakwell confirms that the four are investors in NewTravelco, as is General Catalyst Partners, which has investments in Kayak and ITA Software, and Ignition Partners.
There are about 19 other investors, whom Breakwell won't identify at this point.
Breakwell says, however, that the four know the investors well. "They are a great bunch and great companies," he adds.
Asked what that means for NewTravelco's prospects, Breakwell says: "We know them. They know us, we have great relationships with all of them. It means we can have a productive set of backers that can enable us to do the things we want to do."
The group went out for coffee together at an independent coffee shop -- not at a Starbucks, which is based in Seattle -- on the first day at the office, and Breakwell says some of the city's streets are starting to look familiar again.
Maybe there is something in their choice of coffee shops. Perhaps the group aims to show off an independent streak, and will attempt to come up with something different.
I hear rumors they are working on a "next-generation travel agency."
Whatever that means.
"It's fantastic to be together again," Breakwell says, "and to be doing something small again."
The action on 2nd Ave. South will get up to speed about 10 miles away from where Barton, Breakwell, Slyngstad and Shah made their bones at Microsoft/Expedia.
While NewTravelco works stealthily on something small in startup mode, there's nothing small these days about Expedia.
And, it's doubtful that executives at Expedia, with its global presence, nearly 8,000 employees and $6.8 billion market cap, are losing any sleep over the labors of the four alum over at NewTravelco.
After all, as of yesterday, they had a fridge, perhaps a few ideas, but no working telephones.