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Kayak Is Headed To Russia

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Kayak is expanding into Russia, it seems. Thanks to handy news source LinkedIn (yes, really), one Mr. Andrew Verbitsky changed his profile to read “Managing Director Russia & CIS at KAYAK,” and has apparently held that position since May. The news was spotted by Quintura, which posted details to its blog, also noting that the Kayak.ru domain now forwards to Kayak.com. Verrrry interesting.

Kayak, of course, can’t officially comment, saying only that, sorry, that information was not included in its S1. Prior to now, however, the Kayak.ru domain belonged to some actual kayakers, so the change in ownership is notable.

Verbitsky previously served as an Investment Director at Fast Lane Ventures.

In Russia, Kayak would compete against travel search engines like Aviasales.ru, Skyscanner and Momondo. Meanwhile, like Google and Bing do stateside, Russian search engines and online portals Yandex and Rambler have their own travel search services available: ticket.yandex.ru and Rambler-Avia at avia.rambler.ru. Kayak would be a virtual unknown in this market.

But there’s opportunity. As Mike Butcher previously reported for TechCrunch, the Russian Internet market is booming as Internet access spreads throughout the country. Looking into a new data on the market’s size, he said:

“What’s clear is that given the total Russian Federation population is around 143 million, there is plenty of growth left to be had when around 58 million people are online in a month. That means Russia is poised to overtake the German market any time soon, if it hasn’t already. That also does not include the Ukraine, which is Russian speaking, but is almost always additionally targeted by Russian Internet companies.”

E-commerce plays are doing well, too, with sites like Russia’s KupiVIP, a Gilt Groupe-type service, raising another $38 million in funding last month, and now on track to reach $300 million in revenue for the year.

Currently, Kayak operates websites in 15 countries outside of the U.S., including Germany, the United KingdomFranceSpainItaly and others. Russia isn’t currently in that list.

P.S. This news fell into our inbox yesterday, but apparently we were all so enamored with Google’s and Microsoft’s earnings, or something*. Still, this is good info to have on the day of Kayak’s public debut, right?

* Did I mention that TechCrunch is hiring?