Socialising the travel experience – in the way that Airbnb ‘socialised’ apartment rentals – has proved harder than expected. “Hot” Berlin-based startup Gidsy has spent almost two years touting its peer-to-peer booking platform for discovering local experiences and things to do. It attracted $1.2 million in a seed round in January 2012, with Hollywood star Ashton Kutcher participating. But recently rumours surfaced that the company was deadpooling, unable to raise a follow on round based on its current growth figures. It’s now been acquired by competitor GetYourGuide in an undisclosed deal. The latter has offices in Berlin and Las Vegas. Clearly, it’s that Berlin connection that proved vital in this deal.
Gidsy’s investors were Danish VC Sunstone Capital, London-based Index Ventures, SoundCloud CEO Alexander Ljung, Berlin Angel Christophe Maire and Amazon CTO Werner Vogels.
There’s no guessing where GetYourGuide to the capital to acquire Gidsy. In January it closed a $14 million Series A funding round with investment from Spark Capital and Highland Capital Partners Europe, the newly opened European arm of Highland Capital Partners.
Edial Dekker, CEO and co-founder of Gidsy, said the company and its team of 12 would become part of GetYourGuide, along with his cofounder brother Floris and Phillipp Wassibauer. Dekker will become head of mobile development for GetYourGuide, his brother will become head of design.
Dekker told me: “It’s true we had to change the business model of Gidsy to more sales (and less p2p!), and GYG was already doing that, but in a much better way than we did. It only makes sense, to bring together both teams. All the things we worked on a lot (social, product) we can immediately apply at GYG. We’ve also been working a lot on mobile in the last months, but we did not launch it yet. We’ll have a huge opportunity to work on the same problems we tried solving in the first place: bringing people together around activities.”
Gidsy was founded in 2011 and attracted a lot of interest, building a respectable community with booking activities in more than 140 cities and 40 countries.
However GetYourGuide, founded in Switzerland in 2008, has become a large platform for tours and activities globally, signing a lot of real-world partners, rather than using Gidsy’s crowd-sourced approach. It offers over 19,700 activities provided by professional suppliers in more than 1,930 destinations worldwide and has distribution partnerships with more than 1,500 online travel agencies, travel operators and media companies, such as TripAdvisor.