Everbread, a new travel search startup, is de-cloaking out of stealth today. The startup has put into alpha testing a new search platform that claims to be substantially faster than traditional travel search engines. It’s also doing something unusual – integrating a number of low cost airline carriers. Normally customers must go to these individually as the big travel search engines are usually locked out.
Everbread’s proprietary B2B fares and pricing engine, Haystack, is going to be aimed at airlines, online travel agencies, and travel consortia to let them offer cheaper fares on a greater number of flights. So, for example, you could create a trip which involves flying a major airline to London and then hopping on a low cost airline for that last leg in Europe. That’s significant and it’s not something you can do right now with one engine. It means the travel portals which Everbread signs deals with could potentially combine special deals and last minute offers they have negotiated with specific airlines.
Everbread is running a showcase called Flydini.com which is not a live site allowing bookings but a demo for the travel industry.
The company is based in London but, in a quintessential European startup model, its core team of 30+ developers are actually based in Sophia, Bulgaria.
Finance-wise it’s privately backed by two angels. But perhaps most interestingly the CEO is one Morten Lund, who resurfaced recently as an advisor to another startup, Tradeshift. Lund is still in a personal bankruptcy period, but, he tells me, he is a “hired gun” for Everbread rather than having a stake, which is currently forbidden under the terms of his bankruptcy. Lund famously backed Skype in the early days and online stockbroker Zecco. [He'll be speaking at GeeknRolla]. The rest of the consists of Assen Vassilev, a former founder and CEO of an online travel portal and a Harvard grad; CTO Ashley Raiteri, a former rocket scientist for the United States Defense and Aerospace Industry and COO Alexander Staun.
We’ve also learned that Everbread is working in close cooperation with Ypsilon.net in the German market which delivers internet booking engines to 88,000 websites in Germany, and working on a number of deals with large online travel agencies and meta-search players.
The company has attracted an experienced board. Vagn Sorensen is a former CEO of Austrian Airlines, Montie Brewer is former CEO of Air Canada and Michael Jackson is a former CTO of Skype. Obviously you don’t do that without attracting attention and I gather the movement of these guys to Everbread are rippling though the travel industry right now.
Lund told me: “Airlines and Online Travel Agencies are cold-calling us. Everbread is the deepest and most hardcore technology I have ever been involved with.” Heavy words, but if it works Everbread could solve one of the core problems with the the $2 trillion travel industry.
The timing is significant. Google is rumoured to be working on dedicated Travel search engine and it’s been spotted testing hotel prices in Google Maps. It is also understood to be looking at acquisitions in travel search.
One of Google’s possibly targets could be ITA Software. In the US the company now powers several airline websites and Orbitz for their US domestic traffic. However, ITA has been largely unsuccessful in solving the more complicated problem of international search and has not integrated any of the low cost carriers.
If that acquisition does happen – and we hear it’s on the cards – Microsoft’s Bing (which has a referral deal with Orbitz) would end up being powered by Google-owned search technology on their US domestic airfare queries. Quite an interesting situation.
Travel search technology is notoriously expensive to develop. Most travel search worldwide is handled by three “GDCs” or Global Distribution Companies – Travelport, Sabre and Amadeus. These power the most popular websites (Travelocity, Last Minute.com, Orbitz and Expedia). The search they provide is quite expensive, still mostly run on mainframes and is under a lot of financial pressure from people shopping around at the same time as a downturn in travel purchasing.