Internet mogul Barry Diller hand-picked Dara Khosrowshahi to run Expedia at a pivotal time in the company's history.

The online-travel booking site — born within the walls of Microsoft, spun off and eventually acquired by Diller's InterActiveCorp (IAC) — is about to become a publicly traded company again.

IAC decided in December to split in two its collection of Internet businesses and run a travel unit under the Expedia brand name. While Expedia.com remains its largest travel business, the newly formed unit includes Hotels.com, Hotwire.com and Classic Customs Vacation.

Khosrowshahi, whose family emigrated from Iran to Tarrytown, N.Y., when he was 9, has a bio-electrical engineering degree from Brown University in 1991. He worked as an investment banker at New York-based Allen & Co. for seven years before joining IAC as vice president of strategic planning.

Diller, in a phone interview, said Khosrowshahi is the reason IAC got into the travel business. "He discovered, in the early days, 1-800-Hotels," he said. "We took an interest in it and it was a spectacular success."

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