Skift broke the news today that former Jetsetter cofounder Drew Patterson was named the new CEO of Room 77, a hotel price comparison startup that raised almost $44 million in funding from investors like Expedia, Concur, Bob Pittman, and General Catalyst Partners.
Mr. Patterson was CEO of Jetsetter–a flash sales luxury travel site operated independently under the Gilt Groupe umbrella–for more than three years until Gilt Groupe chairman Kevin Ryan asked him to step down last May. The move by Jetsetter’s board followed an exodus of senior executives, low morale, and fears of a “mutiny” among staffers.
After leaving Jetsetter, Mr. Patterson, a former executive at Kayak.com, cofounded CheckMate, an app that allows hotel guests to check-in from their smartphone. He’s served as CEO there since January, according to his LinkedIn profile and has changed his Twitter handle from @JetSetDrew to the more nimble @DrewPats. Skift reports that Room 77 has “absorbed” CheckMate, as well as Mr. Patterson’s cofounder, Adam Rugel and some team members.
Skift also reports that Mr. Patterson been busy raising money for Checkmate and already secured funding from high-profile techies like Twitter cofounder Biz Stone and Twitter’s former chief scientist Abdur Chowdhury.
In an interview with Skift, Patterson, who was VP of marketing at Kayak for three years before co-founding Gilt Groupe’s Jetsetter in 2009, said no company has “claimed the mantle of leadership” in mobile and vertical hotel search, which he described as only being “in the second or third inning.”
With all that investor pedigree, Skift wondered whether Room 77 should have “tapped a CEO candidate with public company experience for a possible IPO,” posing questions about the motivations of Room 77 founder and chairman Brad Gerstner:
Speaking of spin, some will question the announcement’s back story.
Gerstner and Patterson say the idea to hire Patterson as Room 77′s first CEO only emerged around three weeks ago when the two were having dinner and discussing mobile, hotel search, and Patterson’s fledgling CheckMate.
As chairman and founder, Gerstner has wielded control of Room 77 since its beginnings in 2010. Perhaps opting for Patterson instead of one of the “bigger names” would ensure that Gerstner’s choreography goes unchallenged.
That’s the thing about founder/chairman, they tend to like to control.
When we spoke to Mr. Ryan in December, he said everything was on schedule for the sale and that he expected “binding bids” due that month. We asked about the status of the sale this afternoon, but a Gilt Groupe representative declined to comment.