SideStep buys

SideStep, best known as a travel search company, expanded into the social networking space with the purchase this month of, home to a community of travelers generally in the 20-to-35 age range.

The Los Angeles-based TripUp is designed to help trip planners find travel companions, get advice from experts on their destinations and make acquaintances with people who live in those destinations.

The expert advisers are most often people who live in the destinations, or they are individuals who know the destinations very well based on frequent visits, said Rob Solomon, SideStep president and CEO.

TripUp founder and CEO Sam Rogoway will stay on as a consultant, Solomon said. He said others on TripUp's small staff would join the staff of Santa Clara, Calif.-based SideStep.

Solomon said the purchase provided more income opportunities for his company in two ways: It would give SideStep more Web pages against which to sell targeted advertising, and the fees Sidestep receives from travel suppliers when users click through to suppliers' sites would rise as TripUp members were lured over to SideStep and beyond to booking sites.

Solomon described the acquisition in a big-picture sense, as well, essentially saying SideStep was in step with Web trends toward more community interaction.

On the Web, he said, "the first thing was online agencies, then came the search engines ... and the next thing is the notion of the social Web."

It's been a "subtle revolution," he said.

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