Rob Solomon, the CEO of SideStep in 2007 when Kayak bought its rival, says he hears Kayak is talking to bankers, that its IPO numbers "look great" and the math supports Kayak becoming a public company.
Solomon, who plays no direct role with Kayak, notes that Kayak has yet to file an S-1 registration statement for the IPO, and that the timing has to be just right. He mentions 2011 and 2012 as possibilities, if the IPO doesn't get off this year.
It's been widely reported that Kayak was working with bankers on a possible IPO, but news about its progress from within the Kayak inner sanctum has been sparse.
I contacted Solomon about his becoming president of Groupon, beginning tomorrow, but he didn't dodge questions about his perspective on the Kayak-SideStep metasearch competition two-and-a-half years after Kayak acquired SideStep for around $196 million.
Solomon thinks there wouldn't have been room for two public metasearch companies.
"I think we would have been knocking heads together" for years, he says.
About his new role in Chicago with Groupon, Solomon, who was manager of Yahoo shopping before his SideStep gig, says the marketing shift for local services is seismic.
He argues that Groupon, which today was advertising NY Waterway boat tours for $15, for example, provides a new way for local-service providers to acquire customers.
Groupon is not a travel company, Solomon says, but offers some travel inventory, including hotel deals and tours.
Solomon, who is a partner at Technology Crossover Ventures and is a board member of HomeAway, says he always wanted to resume playing an operational role at a company and he looks forward to his work at Groupon, including the possibility of taking it international.