To me, one of this year's biggest surprises in the hot initial public offerings market was the success of HomeAway Inc., an Austin-based operator of vacation-rental websites. In June, the company's successful IPO raised $231 million as HomeAway opened trading with a nifty price of $27 a share. I always considered HomeAway more of a real estate play on vacation-home rentals, but the IPO market, which has been very generous this year to startup technology companies, viewed HomeAway more of a tech play, as it owns more than 30 sites mostly dedicated to the online vacation-rental business. I guess we were both right. Still, the IPO caught my attention, and when I began looking at HomeAway's core business I came across a recent study the firm had undertaken on the direction of the vacation-rental market. The lead information from HomeAway was about the strength of vacation rentals heading into the peak season, but what I found more interesting was the claim that the number of ow...
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