Skyscanner gets backing from Sequoia Capital, valuation pegged at $800 million
The level of funding ploughed into UK-based Skyscanner was not disclosed, but the pair have said the round puts the company’s price point at around $800 million.
The “partnership”, as they pair are calling it, comes during a period of rapid expansion for the Edinburgh-located Skyscanner, claiming it has grown 100% year-on-year for the past four years.
It plans to double the number of its staff to 500 over the course of the next 12 months, having already performed a similar ratchet up in employees since the middle of 2012.
Sir Michael Moritz, chairman of Sequoia, will join the Skyscanner board alongside existing director Calum Paterson from original investor Scottish Equity Partners.
Skyscanner recently told the FT that its revenues in 2012 were £33.5 million on the back of securing £2.3 billion in leads to airline and online travel agency partners.
Whilst plenty of attention has gone in the direction of US rival Kayak over the past 12 months, following its acquisition by Priceline, Skyscanner has lurked in the background and steadily expanded around the world (including recently planting a foothold in Miami) as well as growing its mobile services.
The ten-year old company says its apps (iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows) have been downloaded 25 million times as traffic to the portfolio has reached some 25 million unique visitors a month.
The investment comes a month after Skyscanner announced the acquisition of Spanish hotel search brand Fogg in an undisclosed deal, signalling its intention to make a serious move into the hotel search space after years of being an affiliate of Hotelscombined.
Skyscanner CEO Gareth Williams tells Tnooz the deal is a “great recognition of our belief that we have opportunity of orders of magnitude growth still to come and that we are a tech company first, online travel second”.
“Sequoia Capital’s investment in Skyscanner brings us a depth of experience drawn from a pantheon of tech brands. We want to provide comprehensive and inspiring answers to travellers worldwide for all aspects of their trips. We intend to offer our users more of the great technology and functionality they’re already familiar with.”
Having the Sequoia chairman sitting on the board is another signal that the “quiet man of travel search”, as some have labelled Skyscanner in recent years (perhaps signifying the different between it and Kayak in terms of style and culture), is growing up fast and wants to make a serious play in the US and strengthen its already strong presence elsewhere around the world.
Moritz is full of praise for Williams, labelling him an “extremely rare species with talents that most of us yearn for but don’t possess”.
“Much remains to be done to make mobile and online travel easier for consumers from Accra to Zagreb and Skyscanner is paving these paths.
“Skyscanner’s success in helping people find the world’s most accurate flight information is just the beginning of what’s possible. Skyscanner is one of the best technology companies ever to come out of Europe and is already a leading global player.”
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.