Skyscanner lifts off with £800m US valuation

 
Oliver Smith
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SKYSCANNER announced yesterday that it has received investment from US venture capital firm Sequoia Capital that values the flight search company at $800m (£459m).

“Sequoia Capital’s investment in Skyscanner brings us a depth of experience drawn from a pantheon of tech brands. We intend to offer our users more of the great technology and functionality they’re already familiar with,” said Skyscanner’s chief executive Gareth Williams.

The exact details of the level of funding were not revealed, but Edinburgh-based Skyscanner said that Scottish Equity Partners – which invested £2.5m in 2007 – remained its largest investor.

Sequoia Capital was an early investor in Apple in 1978 and chairman Sir Michael Moritz made his name serving on the boards of both Google and Yahoo.

“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,” said Moritz.

In August Williams said that Skyscanner had aggressive plans for growth over the next year which include the doubling of its 500 staff.

The company reported revenues of £33.5m in 2012 on total travel bookings via Skyscanner of £2.3bn.

“We have worked closely with Skyscanner since we first invested almost six years ago. During that time it has achieved exponential growth and been transformed into a world class company. We are pleased to welcome Sequoia Capital and Michael Moritz and we look forward to their contribution as we look to help Skyscanner achieve even greater success in the future,” said Scottish Equity Partners partner and Skyscanner board member Calum Paterson.

PROFILE: SKYSCANNER

Skyscanner was founded in 2001 by friends Gareth Williams, Barry Smith and Bonamy Grimes after Williams struggled with searching multiple airlines to find the best flights to visit his brother in France.

The first version of the website was launched in 2002 and it wasn’t until 2003 that the group hired its first employee.

By 2004 Skyscanner had found its niche indexing European budget airlines for cost-conscious travellers.

Soon the business expanded its reach to include most major European carriers, including British Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.

By 2011 the website had become the number one flight search engine in Europe and the company made its first acquisition with door-to-door travel site Zoombu.

Between 2011 and 2012 Skyscanner opened offices in Singapore and Beijing to run its Asia-Pacific and China operations.

Earlier this year the company opened its first US office in Miami where it is expanding its US, Canadian and Latin American business.

In 2011 Skyscanner launched a range of mobile applications for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, by 2013 the company had seen upwards of 20m app downloads and its mobile traffic overtook web views in March.

Last month Skyscanner made its second acquisition with Fogg the Barcelona-based hotel search company.

Skyscanner is now available in more than 25 languages and counts over 30m visitors to its site every month.