Travel search engine Skyscanner acquires Zoombu

Zoombu is a UK startup which has made a speciality of aggregating transport solution ‘across platforms’ – in other words linking up trains, buses and airline time tables. As a result, during the ‘Ash Cloud’ incident in Europe last year, their traffic went up may times, we understand, as people frantically tried to find other means of transport. It thereofore makes sense that Skyscanner, a successful aggregator of airline ticketing, has acquired the startup.

Explaining the move, Gareth Williams, Skyscanner CEO, said “There are more ways to get around than flights only… Air travel is a complex area and we wanted to get that right before expanding into other transport options. So Zoombu is an ideal fit for Skyscanner.”

Zoombu founders Rachel Armitage and Alistair Hann have moved into key roles at Skyscanner, based at the company’s Edinburgh head office. Zoombu, which launched in 2008, has won a number of awards and made it to the final 5 of 1,500 businesses in the Amazon Web Services Start-up Challenge 2010, the only European company to reach this stage. The first data sets to be integrated will be Rail travel.

Armitage said Zoombu’s strengths were in product and technology” and Skyscanner’s “vast user base” was a natural fit. Frankly that is code that Zoombu, although good in its own way, had not managed to get wider adoption, and I think that’s fairly obvious. It’s hard to say if they could have done things differently and perhaps this ‘connected travel’ market is just getting going.

If you want our opinion on this deal – the terms were undisclosed so it’s hard to see if there was a lot of cash on the table here – we’d say that it’s a great one for both parties.

Skyscanner provides comparisons on flight prices for over 670,000 routes on over 600 airlines, as well car hire deals and holidays. Founded in 2001 by three IT professionals, Gareth Williams, Barry Smith and Bonamy Grimes, Skyscanner is based in Edinburgh with a second office in Poland. It says it has over 10 million users per month and generates downstream revenues of over one billion dollars a year.