In a shocking move, a company has purchased a firm that actually integrates immediately into their overall long-term strategy! Priceline (PCLN) has decided to purchase OpenTable and add restaurant listings to their offering. It's a natural addition for a travel website.
To say the least, this transaction is different than other acquisition announcements we have seen in today's frenzied atmosphere for mergers. Even Capt. Kirk (Priceline spokesman William Shatner), would have a hard time figuring out how some of these acquisitions make strategic sense anytime in the near future. Where' Spock when you need him?
After hearing about Facebook's purchase of Oculus , and other Internet company mergers based on a theoretical long-term vision, it's astounding to see a company actually buying another firm that will add to revenue immediately and help solidify the relationship of current users for their services. Rational thinking in a world of bubble like acquisitions; amazing.
To be sure, OpenTable is being purchased at an expensive price. The net revenue for OpenTable (OPEN) is not staggering ($30 million) so the valuation from an earnings metrics is pretty rich. So this is not a bargain purchase which no doubt concerns value investors about the current state of the market. Still, synergy seems to be present in this deal. Travelers eat out and if you can make that easier, it seems like a natural fit.
Priceline is buying OpenTable to have another tool in their arsenal to compete with Expedia (EXPE). It's another way to build client loyalty and it is a natural fit for travelers who want to book reservations on a one-stop basis. By purchasing a going concern, Priceline has the ability to quickly integrate the service from a strategic marketing perspective without having to focus on infrastructure development.
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According to the announcement by Priceline, OpenTable will continue to be run by its current staff in San Francisco. Based on my discussions with parties close to the transaction, it should be a pretty seamless process.
Entrepreneurial companies and technology firms tend to be driven by visionaries. And visionaries have an amazing ability to invest for the future. But sometimes it's a stretch understanding how a company fits into the long-term strategy of the acquiring firm. Perhaps some of the more creative acquisitions that you have heard of as of late will pay off handsomely. For now, a huge dose of imagination is required.
But with this announcement, we've entered a long lost world different from the one we've been living in over the last couple years.This deal makes current sense. Rational thinking by corporate America and Wall Street investment bankers - who would've thought!
Commentary by Michael A. Yoshikami, the CEO and founder of Destination Wealth Management in Walnut Creek, California. He is also a CNBC contributor.