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A weak Wall Street welcome for Newton-based TripAdvisor

Stephen Kaufer is the cofounder and chief executive of TripAdvisor.

Michele McDonald for The Boston Globe

Stephen Kaufer is the cofounder and chief executive of TripAdvisor.

Travel website TripAdvisor Inc. received a tepid welcome on Wall Street yesterday, with shares falling 8.5 percent to $27.67 on the day after it was spun off as a stand-alone, company by former parent Expedia Inc.

“The stock got off to a rocky start,’’ said Carroll Rheem, an analyst at the travel industry research firm PhoCusWright Inc. in Sherman, Conn.

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TripAdvisor, which was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Newton, claims to be the largest travel site in the world, hosting millions of reviews generated by users and members. It was acquired for about $200 million in 2004 by Expedia, then owned by media magnate Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp. In 2005, Expedia became an independent company.

Last April, Expedia, based in Bellevue, Wash., said it planned to spin off TripAdvisor. Yesterday, Expedia shareholders were given one share of TripAdvisor and one share of Expedia for every two shares of Expedia they held at the close of trading Tuesday.

“It’s great to be a stand-alone company, and it’s great to be the consumer brand in Boston,’’ Stephen Kaufer, cofounder and chief executive of TripAdvisor told the Globe last week.

He said TripAdvisor will be able to shine on its own. At Expedia, “our success was overshadowed to some extent,’’ he said.

The new company picked a down day to launch, as the Nasdaq market slid 1 percent to 2,577.97 yesterday. Expedia.com bucked the tide, however, up nearly 4 percent to end at $27.89.

With 1,172 employees, and $486 million in 2010 revenue, TripAdvisor is the biggest consumer Internet firm in Boston.

In addition to anchor website TripAdvisor.com, the company runs 18 other travel sites, including Cruise Critic, Flipkey, and Seatguru. Yesterday, TripAdvisor said it has more than 50 million online reviews and 20 million members, publishing 25 new contributions every minute.

Rheem said that despite the poor launch, TripAdvisor’s “tremendous amount of user-generated content and Web traffic makes it a very powerful brand.’’

D.C. Denison can be reached at denison@globe.com. Globe correspondent Scott Kirsner contributed to this report.
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