Chinese search engine Baidu has made a $306 million investment in Qunar, travel search engine in China. The investment will make Baidu the majority shareholder of Qunar. Qunar had previously raised $25 million in funding. Previous investors include the Lehman Brothers, GSR Ventures Management, Mayfield Fund, and Tenaya Capital.
Founded in 2005, Qunar is basically the Kayak for China. The portal allows Chinese consumers to serach for air and rail tickets, hotels, and tour packages. The company also provides group-buying deals and user discussion forums for reviews. Currently Qunar is one of the most frequented travel search engines in China, listing more than 11,000 air routes and 102,000 hotels worldwide.
This is a strategic investment and partnership, as Baidu says that Qunar and the search engine will ‘cooperate in certain areas of online travel search.’
There’s no doubt that online travel in China represents a huge potential market for both search engines and travel companies and Baidu isn’t the only one who is making investments. Tencent and Expedia just made a $126 million investment in Chinese travel site eLong.