HomeAway, the Austin-born online vacation rental company that was acquired by travel giant Expedia last year, is making changes at the top.
Brian Sharples, who co-founded HomeAway in 2005, led it through a public offering in 2011 and oversaw its $3.9 billion purchase by Expedia in December, has stepped down as CEO. He will remain as chairman through January, the company said.
John Kim, an Expedia executive who was named chief e-commerce officer at HomeAway earlier this year,
will lead HomeAway under the title of president, Expedia said in a written statement.
HomeAway, the leading player in the online vacation rental industry, has built a network of websites with more than 1 million vacation home listings in more than 200 countries.
But HomeAway, which last year had more than 1,900 employees, including 1,086 in Austin, has faced increasing competition, particularly from room-sharing sites such as San Francisco-based Airbnb.
"While it's never easy to hand over the reins of something you built, I believe now is the right time to empower the next generation of leadership as we continue the hard work of transitioning to an online transaction model," Sharples said in a written statement. "John is already an incredible force within HomeAway, and I'm very comforted in knowing we have someone of such caliber to lead our overall mission."
Prior to joining HomeAway, Kim served as chief product officer for Expedia, where he led global product development efforts for brands including Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity.
"John's leadership, belief and deep understanding of the power of science and technology to drive innovation will allow HomeAway to build first-class experiences for its travelers and partners," Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia CEO, said in a written statement.
Expedia has already started making changes at HomeAway, including rolling out new service fees for customers booking vacation rentals.
In March, property owners filed a federal lawsuit accusing HomeAway of engaging in "bait and switch tactics" after launching the new fees. The suit claims the fees are substantially increasing prices paid by consumers and dramatically changing the business model HomeAway and its sister sites, such as VRBO, were built upon.