Google (GOOG) is taking to the skies. The search giant announced Thursday afternoon that it plans to bring aboard ITA Software, a flight-information software company, for $700 million.
With the announcement, Expedia, Kayak.com and Travelport could very well face turbulance. Those companies were reportedly vying for ITA as rumors swirled of a Google buyout, according to The Wall Street Journal. And although the nine-figure purchase price is impressive, it falls short of the $1 billion that ITA had been angling for, according to some reports.
Google plans to use ITA's QPX software to create new flight search tools. ITA's software allows companies to customize the way they organize flight data. It caters to such customers as Orbitz, TripAdvisor and airlines like Alaska and American. Google says it will honor ITA's existing agreements and expects to add more partners.
"ITA's very talented team has created an impressive product to organize flight information," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in a statement. "Their technology opens exciting possibilities for us to create new ways for users to more easily find flight information online, and we're looking forward to welcoming them to Google."
Google and ITA reportedly have been hashing out a deal for the past several months, with a price gap preventing the parties from reaching an agreement sooner, according to the Journal. The 14-year-old ITA was founded by a group of MIT computer scientists, who have raised $100 million in venture funding over the years, the newspaper reported.
ITA's buyout comes as the airlines industry also goes through a consolidation of its own, with United Airlines (UAUA) and Continental Airlines (CAL) announcing plans to merge a couple of months ago.
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