One of my favorite startups in Silicon Valley is Rearden Commerce. Few people have heard of it despite the fact that the company has been around since before the first Internet bust in 2000 and has raised $200 million in capital, most of it recently.
The reason few people have heard of Rearden is because they are a behind-the-scene service. They offer a sort of automated assistant that helps people organize travel needs. In 2007 I called it “mashups for adults:”
Their strategy to date has been to sign large corporate customers and create customized websites for their employees. The service acts very much like a personal assistant. Set your profile up with the types of restaurants you like, whether you like aisle or window seats, and your preferred car provider, and Rearden will book all aspects of your trip for you.
See restaurants within a certain distance from your hotel via a Google Maps mashup (and based on Zagat ratings and cuisine), pick one, and the software will make a reservation for you through OpenTable. Then they’ll sync up with your calendar and your mobile device, and send you messages if anything goes wrong, like a flight delay. You can also access their mobile client to make changes to your itinerary. The interface is orders of magnitude beyond what Orbitz and other travel sites offer (click the screen shot for a larger view), and they’ll also book your restaurant and find you tickets to the Lakers game that night if you like.
Rearden will also keep track of reward miles and points from airlines, hotels, rental cars, etc., and lets users use those points to book additional travel and other services. Cancel a flight? No problem. Rearden keeps track of the credit in its system and suggests you use it the next time you travel.
The company had just 92 corporate customers a couple of years ago. Last year in May (when they released a mobile version of the service) they hit 1,700. Now they have 4,000 corporate customers and more than 2 million total users.
At some point the company will offer a consumer version of the service, something they’ve been promising for over a year. It’s one service that I’d gladly pay for.
In 2008 the company made two acquisitions – Global Ground Automation to assist with limousine and other ground transportation reservations, and ExpenseWire to simplify expense reporting for users. And they added two key executives – Ammiel Kamon (head of worldwide marketing) from Emptoris and Netscape and Dan Pritchett (Chief Platform Architect), a former technology fellow at eBay. CEO Patrick Grady named to the list of 25 most influential executives by Business Travel News along with CEO of Delta Airlines, CEO of American Airlines and John Chambers of Cisco.
Investors include JPMorgan Chase & Co. and American Express, and both of those companies offer the solution to customers.