TripAdvisor looks to license its technology

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NEEDHAM, Mass. -- TripAdvisor Inc., a new search engine specializing in travel content, is negotiating to license its technology to three of the top five on-line travel portals and two CRSs, according to the company.

"We're in the term sheet phase; we're pretty far down the road," said chairman Langley Steinert, a former marketing vice president of Viaweb Inc., an e-commerce site that was sold to Yahoo!.

TripAdvisor sees its technology as being a far more comprehensive and client-specific way for agents to do travel research on behalf of their clients.

The company launched its Web site www.tripadvisor.com Monday as a means of showcasing the technology that it wants to license to portals and the CRSs.

"One part of the Web that is drastically underserved is for consumers or agents doing research," Steinert said.

TripAdvisor.com, which only performs searches on U.S. destinations, claims to do a more comprehensive search of the Web and other resources than other engines. The company's 12 editors read and classify content from newspapers, magazines, guidebooks, personal homepages, travelogues and user reviews.

"There is nothing like this on the market," Steinert said.

TripAdvisor is not seeking to build a new travel brand but wants to license its patent-pending technology to portals and CRSs.

Agents and consumers can fill out a profile on the site, and then the searches will be sorted by the criteria specified.

A start-up, TripAdvisor completed a first round of financing in September that was led by Cambridge, Mass.-based OneLiberty Ventures. It brought in $2 million.

Former Sabre chief executive officer Michael Durham is joining TripAdvisor's board of advisors.

The firm held a focus group recently with 10 leisure agency owner-managers in the New York area, Steinert said, and the technology was well received.

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