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How This Introvert Founder Became a Billion-Dollar Leader

The key is compassion and energy.

This story appears in the March 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Paul English sold Kayak to Priceline in 2012 for $1.8 billion. Now he is reentering the industry with Lola, a mobile app that combines AI with human travel agents to plan and book trips. And at both companies, he says, the key to success is the people he hires.

John Davenport

By texting with Lola agents, users can book hotels and flights, get restaurant recommendations and get help with itinerary planning. Were you a fan of travel agents back in the day?
Really back in the day, I used AAA. But I've also used a cruise travel agent, Wayland Travel for a safari, and, last year, American Express' concierge service in Japan. The trip to Tokyo was motivated by the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. I was obsessed with it -- not because of the sushi, but because of this whole idea of what happens when a human being commits their life to perfection. Immediately after seeing the film, I got a couple of friends to go with me. One said she could get us a reservation at Sukiyabashi Jiro. Guaranteed. But at the last minute, her attempt fell through. So I called American Express and asked, "What's the best sushi restaurant in Tokyo?" They gave us a really unique recommendation that I never would have discovered on my own.

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