Kayak gobbles up Sidestep

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that metacrawlers are the new big thing in travel search engines. In addition to querying the canonical search engines like Orbitz and Expedia, metacrawlers also search airline home pages and other sources to create a “fuller” search query.

Over the past few years I’ve been preaching the benefits of Kayak and it looks like they’ve started to gain traction (you can send my consulting check to my office, thanks). And with a solid market segment, Kayak has now turned their eyes to the competition. Sidestep, the second most popular metacrawler recently announced (internally) that Kayak put up the $200 million to buy them out completely. This will make Kayak the metacrawler source out on the interwebs.

Much as I preached about Kayak, I’m a little concerned with the über corporate route that they’re taking. Speficially, I’m concerned that their new powerhouse corporate entity will overshadow their original grass roots mentality. With agreements with Priceline, Hotwire and Expedia that can automatically bring up windows during a query, Kayak is starting to get that corporate stench that only a true multi-million dollar company can produce.

Despite my concerns, Kayak’s developers continue to maintain a strong relationship with its users, always responding to queries from myself and Gadlingers alike. Please, please, try to keep your travel-hungry masses in mind as you take over the metacrawler world, Kayak.