Peter Kern became chief executive officer of Expedia Group Inc. last April, during the travel industry’s worst crisis in decades.
It was a precarious moment: Calls to the company’s call centers had surged 500% as consumers canceled flights and hotel rooms. Expedia burned through cash in issuing refunds. To weather the downturn, it scrambled to raise about $4 billion in capital last spring.
Expedia had troubles that predated the pandemic. A strategy clash between its board and management led to the resignations of Expedia’s then-CEO and finance chief in December 2019. Barry Diller, the company’s chairman, pronounced Expedia on an earnings call as “sclerotic and bloated” as it struggled to compete against Google ’s growing presence in the…