TripAdvisor Buys Citymaps, Ramps Up Competition With Google, Others

Xconomy Boston — 

One of the giants in online travel is making a move to solidify its standing. TripAdvisor, based in Needham, MA, said today it has acquired New York City-based Citymaps. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the companies say Citymaps will continue to operate as a standalone business.

Citymaps developed a mapping app that shows users logos and icons of businesses and points of interest near the places they visit (see map above). The company says its app is more about personalizing maps and sharing experiences than navigating or getting directions. Citymaps is led by CEO and founder Elliot Cohen. It got started in 2010 and raised at least $10 million from investors that include Nokia Growth Partners and Ashton Kutcher’s A-Grade Investments.

Adam Medros, TripAdvisor’s senior vice president of global product, said in a prepared statement that the acquisition will “help TripAdvisor ensure its mapping features best address the needs of its users who are increasingly accessing the site on mobile devices.” (You can read more from Medros in this Q&A, and more on TripAdvisor’s social-mobile strategy here.)

The Citymaps acquisition could also be seen as an effort to fend off Google and others in mapping technology and location-based marketing. TripAdvisor’s main competitors are Google, Priceline, and Expedia. All of them have efforts in search, booking, and reviews for travel options, hotels, and local attractions.

TripAdvisor (NASDAQ: TRIP) has made at least 15 acquisitions in the past five years, according to CrunchBase. Some of the more notable ones are Viator in travel booking, Wanderfly in recommendations, and Tiny Post in photo sharing. Meanwhile, Expedia made a number of big acquisitions last year, including Travelocity, Orbitz, and Homeaway.

Earlier this year, there was also speculation that TripAdvisor might be acquired by Priceline. Steve Kaufer, TripAdvisor’s CEO and founder, shared some of his thoughts on the competitive landscape in travel in this interview from 2013.

TripAdvisor’s stock price has been fairly stable since March, following a slide at the beginning of 2016. The company’s market capitalization is currently $9.2 billion.