Priceline founder jumps ship

Shouldn't it be women and children first?

Jay Walker, the brains behind reverse auction house Priceline.com, is to leave the dotcom's board of directors.

Walker officially finishes his stint as Priceline vice chairman on December 31, and the official company line pumped out after close of trading yesterday was that its founder was leaving "in order to focus on business challenges facing Walker Digital". This is Walker's business incubator and the outfit behind the technology used on the Priceline site.

No replacement for Walker was named.

Walker said he was proud of what had been achieved at Priceline. "I have every confidence that priceline.com will emerge from the current environment as one of the Internet's pre-eminent brands," he stated.

He is not the first to jump ship at the Connecticut-based dotcom, and who can blame him? (It is claimed he left the company voluntarily). The company's stock price today closed down 4.8 per cent at $1.25, a far cry from last year's high of $162. Earlier this month Priceline lost its 'face' on TV when ex-Star Trek star William Shatner quit, and its CFO walked out in November just as the company announced it was chopping 16 per cent of staff.

As for Walker's other venture, Walker Digital - it doesn't seem to be in much better shape. Last month it laid off 100 staff after failing to get its next round of funding.

Meanwhile, billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal faces losses of $80 million in Priceline - a situation which has scared him off investing in Internet shares in the future. &reg:

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