Edinburgh, Scotland-based Skyscanner, a global travel search site, says it raised a $192mn funding round. According to the Financial Times, the five investors in the round include UK investment manager Artemis; Scottish investment group Baillie Gifford; the sovereign wealth fund of the Government of Malaysia, Khazanah Nasional Berhad; European private equity firm Vitruvian Partners; and Yahoo! Japan, which is already engaged in a joint venture with Skyscanner. This investment round reportedly values the startup “at about $1.6bn,” which is double its value since its most recent funding round in October 2013.
Skyscanner was advised throughout the investment process by Goldman Sachs International and Numis Securities Ltd., who acted jointly as financial advisers, brokers and bookrunners in connection with the investment.
“The fundraising round makes Skyscanner one of the UK’s most highly valued technology start-ups,” says FT European Technology Correspondent, Murad Ahmed, “in a move that sees the Edinburgh-based online travel site enter the small club of British ‘unicorns’ — private technology companies worth more than $1bn.”
London dominates the UK technology industry but the Scottish capital of Edinburgh is well positioned to capitalize on a global tech market, possibly creating more unicorns in the process, according to The Times. The number of startups in Scotland has increased 43% over the last five years to approximately 3,000, with Edinburgh reportedly having a growth rate beyond the rest of the UK.
In 2013, Sequoia Capital made a secondary investment valuing Skyscanner at $800 million, according to the company. Sequoia Capital’s Chairman Michael Moritz, who joined Skyscanner’s board of directors, called it “one of the best technology companies ever to come out of Europe.”
In 2007, the company had raised $5.1 million in a Series A round from Scottish Equity Partners (SEP), according to Crunchbase. In addition, between 2011 and 2014 Skyscanner boosted its growth by acquiring Zoombu, Fogg, Youbibi, Distinction Ltd, and Dorsai Travel.
“We’ve been in the travel business for over 10 years, and we employ more than 50 different nationalities from our global offices in Edinburgh, Singapore, Beijing, Shenzhen, Miami, Barcelona, Glasgow, London, Sofia and Budapest. We have over 50 million unique visitors per month who use us to find flights, car rentals and hotels in more than 30 different languages,” says Skyscanner on its website.
Skyscanner’s co-founder and CEO Gareth Williams told the Financial Times, that in addition to pursuing deals the investment will also provide “a measure of liquidity” to existing shareholders. He said a number of investors will sell parts of their current shareholdings without fully exiting their positions with the company. “We’re fundamentally a profitable company with organic growth,” he said. “We’re in a $500bn sector globally, so wanted to make sure we have the funds to accelerate growth.”
Williams became fascinated with computers as a teenager. Pursuing his love of code, he went on to study mathematics and computing at Manchester University. On the first day of the course, he met Bonamy Grimes and Barry Smith (who went on to become Skyscanner co-founders) and they bonded over music and computer code. After graduating and going on to work as a ‘programmer for hire’, Gareth became frustrated with the difficult and tedious process of having to search multiple airline and travel agent websites to find the best flights to visit his brother who was living in France. He had a vision for a single website that could collect, collate and compare prices for every commercial flight in the world. From a simple excel spreadsheet, Skyscanner was born. The project grew by word of mouth and, when thousands of people were using the prototype Skyscanner site every day, the three founders realized they were on to something and gave up the day jobs. Opening an office in Edinburgh, the Skyscanner site was officially launched in 2003.
The company grew to become the number one flight search engine in Europe, and in 2011 a Singapore office was opened to help grow Skyscanner in the Asia-Pacific market. Skyscanner now operates worldwide with offices in the UK, Singapore, Beijing, Shenzhen, Miami, Barcelona, Sofia and Budapest. Currently offering travel searches in more than 30 different languages including Thai, Japanese and Russian, Skyscanner is the travel site of choice for independent travelers all over the world.
Skyscanner powers 400 partners, including 50 metasearch sites, through its Skyscanner for Business suite of products, including White Label and API tools, which gives partners access to flight, hotel and car rental searches. The Skyscanner White Label edition allows for full language translation.
Skyscanner is a global travel search site that provides online comparisons for a number of flights, car rentals, and hotels. It enables its users to access price lists related to its categories. It provides its users with the ability to receive price lists by entering information such as destination, dates, and number of personnel. Skyscanner carries out its operation in a number of languages. Skyscanner’s revenues reportedly topped GBP 93 million in 2014, 42% up from 2013. The company was founded on May 16, 2003 by Bonamy Grimes, Barry Smith, and Gareth Williams, and is based in Edinburgh, Scotland.