Scotland business

Travel firm Skyscanner secures major investment

Skyscanner logo Image copyright Zsofia Molnar

The Edinburgh-based travel website, Skyscanner, has secured major new investment to boost its global growth.

Five investor funds have backed Scotland's leading tech firm with £128m between them. That is understood to put its valuation above £1 billion.

The new funding is to accelerate growth of Skyscanner through its search engine, which is already used by 50 million users each month.

The company is one of the world leaders in the online travel booking sector.

It said it could potentially gain a larger share of a market worth about £333bn.

New investors include Baillie Gifford investment house in Edinburgh, the investment arm of the Malaysian government, Khazanah Nasional Berhadnd, and Yahoo! Japan, with which Skyscanner is already a partner in Japan.

New markets

The other new backers are London-based Artemis, which manages £22bn of funds, and Vitruvian Partners, a private equity fund specialising in technology and operating out of London, Munich and Stockholm.

Gareth Williams, Skyscanner's founder and chief executive, said the new investors brought expertise which would help develop new markets online and around the world.

Starting in 2003 as a search engine for air tickets, the company turned its first profit in 2009.

In October 2013, it secured a major investment from the leading Silicon Valley technology investor, Sequoia Capital.

At that time, the new investment put the company's valuation at about £500m.

That was as the company launched an app which has now been downloaded more than 40 million times.

It also moved beyond searching flights to car rental and hotels. It has 1,200 business partners for which it processes search results.

'Exciting time'

The company has offices around the world, catering for 30 languages, and has new headquarters in Edinburgh's Quartermile development.

It has other offices in Barcelona, Beijing, Budapest, Glasgow, London, Miami, Shenzhen, Singapore and Sofia.

The 27 months since the Sequoia investment is understood to have seen Skyscanner double in value, implied by the new investment. However, Skyscanner is declining to say what stakes the new investors will have.

Early investors include Scottish Equity Partners, which remains a major shareholder.

Gareth Williams said: "Skyscanner has enjoyed high double-digit growth rates for some years now.

"This financing round and our recent new hires allow us to build fantastic further tools for travellers."

"We have so much more to do together - it's an exciting time."

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