Since its founding over 20 years ago, Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) has been a top name in the online travel-agency (OTA) space. Today, the company is one of the two big entities in the segment next to arch-rival Priceline Group. It's worth taking a look, then, at who and what heads Expedia's list of top stockholders.

Index fund favorite

In addition to being half of that OTA duopoly, Expedia is a longtime component of the benchmark S&P 500 index.

So it's fitting that its top two shareholders operate a host of index funds. No. 1 is mutual fund king Vanguard Group, which as of March 30, held over 11.6 million Expedia shares, nearly 8.5% of the outstanding amount. Numerous Vanguard funds have money in Expedia. The company's Mid-Cap Index, Total Stock Market Index, 500 Index, and Institutional Index funds all boast large holdings.

Next on the Expedia shareholder list are two other financials, BlackRock (NYSE:BLK) and privately held PAR Capital Management. BlackRock's increasingly popular exchange-traded funds have pushed it to the point of being a rival to Vanguard; its interest in Expedia is probably similar. BlackRock possessed slightly over 7.8 million shares of Expedia, or 5.7% of the company. PAR Capital's stake was slightly smaller.

Other publicly traded institutional investors of note include financial services companies JPMorgan Chase, State Street and Ameriprise Financial. Their Expedia holdings comprise a respective 3.9 million shares (2.8% of the outstanding amount), nearly 5 million (3.6%), and 2.3 million (1.7%).

Silhouetted against the sun, a man stands with his luggage in an airport, watching through a window as an airplane takes off.


Now boarding

Turning to the roster of individuals with large stakes, it's perhaps striking to see the name of Barry Diller at the top of the list. How could the veteran media mogul be so deeply entrenched in Expedia's ownership structure?

The answer is that Diller was once the captain of the SS Expedia. His USA Networks, now known as IAC (NASDAQ:IAC), bought a majority stake in the company in 2001 from its founder, Microsoft. Although Expedia didn't stay in IAC's portfolio for long -- it was bundled with other IAC travel assets and spun off into a new company in 2005 -- Diller became and has remained the company's chairman.

This involvement is underpinned by a major holding in the business. As of the end of March, Diller was in possession of just over 5 million Expedia shares, giving him a stake of nearly 4%.

Expedia's board and management are well represented among those major individual shareholders. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, the former IAC CFO who has been Expedia's CEO and a board member since that 2005 spinoff, holds over 432,000 shares.

The board's vice chairman, Victor Kaufman, has nearly 118,000 shares, and fellow board members Jonathan Dolgen, Peter Kern, "Skip" Battle, and Craig Jacobson also had notable stakes. Ditto for CFO Mark Okerstrom.

Sturdy and stable

Expedia's shareholder structure isn't unusual for such a prominent company on a major stock index. With the sharp rise in popularity of index funds, it's to be expected that a sturdy S&P 500 component -- whose shares have performed well, by the way -- would be a choice pick for such entities.

It's also fairly routine for top managers and board members to be prominent on the list of big stakeholders. Such relationships keep them involved and motivated to stay in their positions, and perform them well.

In all, Expedia's list of top stockholders is about what you'd expect for the company. I don't see it being kicked off the S&P 500 anytime soon, or for its top managers or board members to bail out. So we shouldn't expect its shareholder structure to change radically going forward.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.