Google’s $700 Million ITA Travel Software Acquisition Approved with Conditions

Google struck a deal to acquire travel software provider ITA for $700 million in July of 2010, but the deal quickly met with opposition from ITA customers like Kayak, Expedia and Microsoft, who weren’t enthusiastic about the idea of the ITA data going to Google. Today, the Department of Justice has cleared the way for the acquisition to go through, under specific conditions.

Jeff Huber, Google’s SVP of Commerce and Local, posted on the Google blog “we’re moving to close this acquisition as soon as possible, and then we’ll start the important work of bringing our teams and products together,” so it seems that the DOJ’s conditions will be agreed to by the search giant.

The key conditions agreed to in the settlement are that Google:

  • Continue to license ITA’s QPX software to airfare websites on commercially reasonable terms
  • Continue to fund research and development of that product at least at similar levels to what ITA has invested in recent years
  • Further develop and offer ITA’s next generation InstaSearch product to travel websites
  • Implement firewall restrictions within the company that prevent unauthorized use of competitively sensitive information and data gathered from ITA’s customers
  • Not enter into agreements with airlines that would inappropriately restrict the airlines’ right to share seat and booking class information with Google’s competitors

for the next 5 years. {TechCrunch}

In other words Microsoft, Expedia, Kayak et. al would have until 2016 to build or fund their own airfare search software. Until then, the terms of the settlement means that Google wouldn’t be able to price competitors out of the software, stop developing it to hobble the software for companies currently dependent on it, share data from ITA within other departments at Google or cut deals with airline customers that would force them to choose ITA over another airfare search provider.


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