Boo.com Got Sold Again!

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This is big news for people who experienced the dotcom crash, survived and brought home a t-shirt: Boo.com, once an online fashion retail outlet that went spectacularly bust in early 2000 after burning through approximately $135 million in VC money in about a year and a half, just got acquired (once again).

Actually, it’s Boo.com’s latest parent company Web Reservations International that was purchased by affiliates of private equity investment firm Hellman and Friedman for an undisclosed amount. But it’s Boo.com, people!

In May 2007, Dublin, Ireland-based Web Reservations International turned Boo.com – which will forever remain one of the most famous implosions of the dotcom era – into a travel website with reviews and listings, complementing its already established range of online travel brands: hostelworld.com, bedandbreakfastworld.com, hostels.com and trav.com.

The news of the acquisition of WRI by the American PE firm comes weeks after the Irish company hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to find a buyer for a – rumored – £275 million (nearly $460 million).

WRI doesn’t publicly disclose how much funding it has raised over the past few years (although they most certainly did raise VC). But clearly this is a great exit for Ray Nolan, Tom Kennedy, Paddy Holohan and (U2 manager) Paul McGuinness, who founded WRI back in 1999, coincidentally also the year the former Boo.com first saw the light of day.

WRI claims its property management solutions are used by more than 23,000 accommodation providers in 180 countries. One of its flagship sites, Hostelworld.com, has sold over 70 million beds and processed over 15 million customer bookings since inception, with customers posting over 2.7 million reviews of accommodation booked through the site.

WRI sold €350 million ($521 million) worth of accommodation in 2008, generating net revenues of €38 million ($56.5 million). The company is headquartered in Dublin, employs 93 people and has offices in Shanghai and Sydney.

(Thanks for the tip, Steven Anderson)

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