April 17, 2008 |
Rumors started circulating earlier in the week, but today, Microsoft confirmed to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that it purchased Seattle-based Farecast at a rumored purchase price of over $75 million USD. Farecast has also confirmed the sale on their blog.
Farecast is a nifty little application that attempts to help you judge when the best time is to buy your airline tickets. They are also beta testing a version that does the same for hotel rooms. By entering your travel plans, Farecast allows you to check prices via Hotwire, Expedia, Travelocity, and Priceline, and gives you a best-guess estimate of whether the fare will be lower at a later date, or if it's an ideal time to buy. If the price will be lower later, Farecast sends an email alerting you to the lower price.
What's more surprising is Microsoft moving back into the online travel reservations business. They spun Expedia off back in 1999 to a successful IPO, and Yahoo has its own travel reservations service. While Farecast could certainly complement Yahoo Travel, there is bound to be some amount of redundancy.
The purchase of Farecast is one more notch in Microsoft's belt in the big buy-up. AOL, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are all jockeying for position while Microsoft waits out Yahoo on their purchase offer, with all parties trying to maximize their valuation and industry position. Unfortunately, the Farecast news is probably going to be buried with the Google earnings announcement, and Microsoft will probably hold off on a formal announcement until after some of Google's confetti tossing has ceased.