Sabre Looks Outside Travel Industry In CEO Search

Sabre is looking at candidates outside the travel industry and with a technology background in its search to replace Tom Klein as chief executive, a couple insiders familiar with the search told The Beat.

A longtime Sabre vet, Klein surprised many in June when he announced plans to resign as president and CEO. He is stepping down from his post and from the board of directors at the end of the year.

In the meantime, Sabre's board initiated a search process with an outside firm to identify CEO candidates, Sabre CFO Rick Simonson said during the Deutsche Bank Technology Conference last week. While he did not discuss specifics or indicate the direction Sabre is going in its search, he said the company has "got a lot of interest" in the opening.

According to sources who requested anonymity, the company is looking to supplement its domain expertise in travel with a leader from an Internet or technology firm like Google.

Simonson told investors Sabre has "got a lot of great experience of people who know the industry." He pointed to president of Sabre Travel Network Sean Menke, who held C-level roles in the airline industry, and president of Sabre Hospitality Solutions Alex Alt, who hailed from Rosewood Hotels and Resorts.

While Simonson said Klein's departure came a "little earlier than thought," he stressed that the board is not expecting a big shake-up from its next leader.

"We're not looking for a new CEO to fix something or make a right turn or do a transition," he said last week. "We're looking for somebody who gets the attributes of the business and can lead us to the next level. The focus on that, all else equal, is emphasis on product, platforms and software."

Sabre declined to offer more color on its executive search.