Priceline chief executive Darren Huston resigned Thursday after an investigation into a personal relationship with an employee found that he had contravened the travel company’s code of conduct for executives.
An investigation by the board said Mr Huston “had engaged in activities inconsistent with the board’s expectations for executive conduct, which Mr Huston acknowledged and for which he expressed regret”.
The company named chairman Jeffery Boyd as interim chief executive while it conducts a search for a permanent replacement.
Mr Huston, a Canadian, joined Priceline in 2011, having previously worked at Starbucks and at Microsoft in senior roles. He became chief executive of Priceline in 2013, overseeing a period of growth that included the purchase of OpenTable, the reservations site, for $2.6bn in 2014.
Under his watch Priceline also invested $500m in Ctrip, the Chinese travel booking website.
Most of Priceline’s revenues come from Booking.com, a Netherlands-based travel site that it acquired in 2005.
As part of the executive changes, Gillian Tans will become chief executive of Booking.com, a role previously held by Mr Huston.
Priceline, which competes with smaller rivals such as Expedia, also owns a range of other travel-related sites including Kayak and Agoda.
The company reported $55.5bn in bookings last year, up 10 per cent from the previous year. Revenues in 2015 were $9.2bn, as growth slowed to 9 per cent, partly due to the impact of a strong US dollar.
By close of trading on Thursday, Priceline shares had shed 2.7 per cent. The company is due to report first-quarter earnings on May 4.