The much-anticipated new TravelPost will have to wait awhile after the company changed the "scope" of its stealth product, appointed a new CEO and laid off roughly half the staff.
In the executive shakeup, Greg Slyngstad and Simon Breakwell are out as CEO and chief operating officer, respectively, and vice president of product management Jason Karas becomes CEO.
Slyngstad and Breakwell will stay involved with the company as board members, and chairman Rich Barton remains in his post.
"We've decided to alter the scope of our launch product," Breakwell says. "To fit these needs, we've made some changes in our company structure as well."
TravelPost laid off eight employees, about half its staff.
"Due to the sensitivity of our employee relationships, and the fact that our product vision is still in stealth mode, I'm not going to be able to say much beyond this," Breakwell says.
Breakwell says he'll be excited to talk about the TravelPost product "later this year."
The shakeup comes as a major surprise and shatters the notion, held by some, that a reunion of some of the key players who created Expedia could lead to a tremendously innovative product -- or even a new travel-product category akin to the creation of online travel agencies, dynamic packages or metasearch.
Barton founded Expedia, Slyngstad was part of the original team within Microsoft and Breakwell headed Expedia in Europe until 2006.
The appointment of Karas as CEO marks a break from the Expedia pedigree.
But Karas should have a close working relationship with board chairman Barton. Techflash reports that Karas is Barton's brother-in-law.
Karas, who joined TravelPost in October 2010, most recently founded Carbonrally.com, a gaming site promoting clean energy, and served as its CEO.
The initial expectation was that TravelPost's reincarnation would take place by November 2010 around the time of the PhoCusWright conference in Arizona, but the company revealed at that time that the launch was delayed and that a beta launch would take place in the first quarter of 2011
TravelPost then began signing up people for its first quarter of 2011 beta, unveiled its logo and "experiences shared" tagline.
The initial timetable has been shattered.
Breakwell said Jan. 6 he will be "excited to talk ... more about the company later this year."
The precise reasons for scrapping the product vision or scope remain unclear.
There had been speculation that when TripAdvisor leveraged Facebook to launch Trip Friends, a social hotel-recommendation app, that it stole some of TravelPost's thunder.
The team of Expedia alums, then doing business as NewTravelco, acquired TravelPost from Kayak in March 2010 and raised $9.8 million from two dozen investors, including Barton, Slyngstad, Breakwell, chief technology officer Sunil Shah [another Expedia alum], General Catalyst Partners [an investor in Kayak and ITA Software] and Ignition Partners.
Asked whether TravelPost was winding down or what the next steps are in store for the company, newly appointed CEO Karas said he can't share any additional information at this juncture.
TravelPost is essentially a hotel review site, featuring user-generated content, and has branched out into offering vacation and destinations' advice, much of it coming from the TravelPost community.
With the restructuring of the company, TravelPost's direction and future remain a very open question.