Booking Holdings (formerly Priceline) is the dot-com bust that refuses to die

Booking Holdings is now the second-largest travel company in the world and has invested more than $2B in the Chinese travel market.


January 4, 2019

Remember Priceline? The travel booking aggregator that made waves in the ’00s with its soaring stock prices and “Price-line Negotiat-or” commercials, only to nearly go bankrupt when the dot-com bubble burst?

Well, they’re back, and they’re stronger than ever before.

Renamed Booking Holdings, it is now the second-largest travel company in the world — and, according to the WSJ, it has quietly invested more than $2B in the rapidly expanding Chinese travel market.

The comeback kid

When Priceline.com IPO’d in 1999, it soared to a $23.1B market value. But by 2002, tanking tech stocks devalued its stock from $1k to $6.60 per share.

For years, the company was “left for dead.” Then, they bought Booking.com and decided to focus on lucrative hotel bookings.

Since 2009, Booking Holdings has seen massive regrowth, including a 3k% uptick in stock price, and a $100B market cap. Some analysts have called it “the most remarkable turnaround in the history of the Internet.”

China? China.

In the past few years, Booking has thrown down more than $2B in Chinese tech companies, including a $500m investment in Chinese ride-hailing giant DiDi Chuxing and a $1.3B investment in their Chinese rival, Ctrip.com.

The incentive to invest is high: Since Google is blocked in China, most Chinese citizens rely on travel apps to book trips — and, for Booking, one man’s app is another man’s travel.

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