Expedia Spins Out TripAdvisor, PopCap Opens a New Studio, LiquidPlanner Makes Work Social & More in the Seattle-Area Tech Roundup

The digital travel sector was a hot source of news for Xconomy readers in the past week—specifically, we had three major appearances from Bellevue, WA-based Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE). The online travel giant made its biggest headlines with its decision to spin out TripAdvisor into a separate public company. As Xconomy’s Greg Huang reported, Newton, MA-based TripAdvisor has been part of Expedia since 2004, but the two companies operated independently. That setup seems to have worked pretty well—TripAdvisor reported $486 million in revenue in 2010.

The TripAdvisor announcement came just one day before the federal government said it would approve Google’s $700 million acquisition of Cambridge, MA-based ITA Software, which makes airfare pricing and shopping software. Expedia was among the online-travel companies that opposed the original bid by Google (NASDAQ: GOOG). But that coalition praised the U.S. Justice Department’s firewalls and ongoing oversight as conditions of the deal.

If that wasn’t enough, we also had an in-depth report from Xconomy Detroit’s Thomas Lee about the entrepreneur working on Expedia’s first native hotel-booking iPhone app, Expedia Hotel, which debuts this month. The guy behind the new product, Ben Kazez, sold his startup Mobiata to Expedia last year. The new app is a big step for Expedia, which gets most of its revenue from hotel bookings.

Elsewhere on the Seattle-area tech beat:

—I stopped by venture capitalist Tom Huseby’s office for a chat on the implications for the Puget Sound region’s mobile innovation community if AT&T‘s blockbuster $39 billion purchase of Bellevue’s T-Mobile goes through. Huseby is a veteran of the industry here, and has specialized in startups that work with wireless carriers. One of his major takeaways from the buyout was a bit of “chin up” advice for the local community: Yes, losing a major headquarters is bad. But it’s not as bad as everyone thinks. Go check out the whole thing for more insights on our mobile talent cluster, the carrier duopoly (plus Sprint), and why mobile and place-bound computing convergence is the biggest disruption of them all.

—I took a look at how Bellevue-based LiquidPlanner, a startup that makes mid-range online project management software, is capitalizing on the trend of blending social and mobile features with boring old business software. As CEO Charles Seybold explained, there’s more than beauty in the user-friendly design of LiquidPlanner—the Facebook-like look and feel, and the instant messaging-style features … Next Page »

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