< PrevNext > Sean Menke, Sabre president & CEO Renaissance Man By Jay Boehmer / December 12, 2018 / Contact Reporter Share This is not your father's Sabre. It's not Tom Klein's Sabre or Sam Gilliland's Sabre. No, those former CEOs are gone, and now the travel distribution and travel IT company is being reinvented by a former airline executive who, in two years as CEO, has ushered in major and sometimes surprising changes.The biggest surprise came in November, when Sabre agreed to acquire Farelogix for $360 million. Yes, that Farelogix. The one led by Jim Davidson, a CEO who relished being an irritant to global distribution systems. Yes, that Farelogix. The one whose earlier business focus was "essentially killed" by Sabre nearly a decade ago, as Davidson recalled in testimony at trial as a witness against Sabre a couple years ago. Yes, that Farelogix. The one whose business model, at least for a time, was premised on bypassing GDSs like Sabre's and disrupting the distribution status quo.The deal is the culmination, to date at least, of Sabre's reinvention under Menke—a "renaissance" within the company, as one of his deputies, Dave Shirk, said. Amid that renaissance, the C-suite is unrecognizable from a couple years ago; the company began moving its tech foundation from mainframes to the cloud to open up its systems and shake a legacy identity; it cut headcount by 9 percent last year and this year introduced a new organizational structure, more closely aligning its GDS and airline IT businesses.At investor and client forums this year, Menke has advocated a "one Sabre" concept and sees the company repositioning as a "microservices-enabled" technology "platform" focused on "retailing, distribution and fulfillment." The Farelogix deal, Menke's first strategic acquisition as CEO, is an exclamation point on that statement. Farelogix's technology serves airlines in pricing, retailing and merchandizing. It manages application programming interfaces for some of the world's largest carriers—including American, Emirates, Lufthansa Group and Qantas—to transmit fares, offers, bundles and ancillaries from their internal systems to sales channels. Those channels include GDSs but also those trying to bypass them.The market responded with surprise, but many took the deal as sign that Sabre was dead serious about playing in a distribution world that is being reshaped by the International Air Transport Association's New Distribution Capability. Even so, some airlines liked having David in their corner against Goliath. Now that Goliath has adopted David as a son and David has disarmed his slingshot, what happens next?