The $930 million purchase of TravelClick by Thoma Bravo blends two significant trends that are fueling transactions: cloud computing and travel services.
TravelClick provides cloud-based software services to the hospitality industry, with clients such as Hilton Hotel & Resorts, Crown Hotels Australia and the Bryant Park Hotel. The company was sold by Genstar Capital Management LLC and Bain Capital Ventures, which acquired TravelClick in 2007.
TravelClick ranks among roughly 25 investments in cloud computing made by Thoma Bravo, the well-respected 35-year-old technology-focused private equity firm based in Chicago and San Francisco. Other cloud investments made by the firm include GHX, Hyland Software, Sailpoint and Vision Solutions.
"The cloud is the preferred model of consumption," says Thoma Bravo managing partner Orlando Bravo. Cloud computing has revolutionized information technology. The technique leverages a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer. By enabling on-demand delivery of IT resources and applications via the Internet with pay-as-you-go pricing, cloud computing has paved the way for a slew of efficient, inexpensive services.
The TravelClick deal served as a precursor for several travel-related transactions in the first few months of 2015, spurred in part by intense competition between Priceline Group Inc. (Nasdaq: PCLN) and Expedia Inc. (Nasdaq: EXPE).
Already in 2015, Expedia bought Sabre Corp.'s Travelocity for $280 million in cash and announced its intention to buy Orbitz Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: OWW) for $1.6 billion, picking up consumer brands including CheapTickets, Ebookers and HotelClub.
Also in 2015, Priceline raised $1.13 billion in a public offering of senior notes earmarked for acquisitions. In 2014, the company spent $2.5 billion on purchases, including $2.4 billion for restaurant reservation service OpenTable and a $921 million stake in China's Ctrip.com International Ltd. Priceline recently made a small $20 million deal to buy Rocketmiles, a hotel-booking startup.
Private equity firms have also made investments in travel sites in 2015. A consortium led by the Carlyle Group (Nasdaq: CG) said it is buying PrimeSport Holdings Inc. from Clearlake Capital Group LP. PrimeSport sells tickets, travel packages and other hospitality-related services to sporting events, including the NCAA Final Four, College Football Playoff and Daytona 500. Moorad Sports Partners and RSE Ventures are joining Carlyle to buy the business. Moorad Sports was founded by Jeff Moorad, a former sports agent who held a partial stake in Major League Baseball team the Arizona Diamondbacks and was the lead partner in a group that owned the San Diego Padres. RSE is an entertainment venture capital firm founded by Stephen Ross, owner of National Football League team the Miami Dolphins.