European restaurant reservation service LaFourchette — the so-called OpenTable of France — has entered into agreement to be acquired by NASDAQ-listed travel site TripAdvisor, with whom it already had a partnership.
Terms of the deal are not being disclosed. However, sources tell TechCrunch that the price is actually ~$140 million (€100 million) in an all cash deal. The company had previously raised around $15 million in VC.
In May 2012, LaFourchette raised €8 million ($10.5 million) from Serena Capital and Partech at a valuation of more than €50 million ($65.8 million), though, curiously, it has remained majority-owned by its earlier backer Otium Capital.
Operating under the LaFourchette brand in French, Eltenedor in Spanish and ‘TheFork’ in English, the Paris-headquartered company offers an online and mobile reservation platform for restaurants in France, Spain and Switzerland, claiming a network of more than 12,000 restaurant partners.
Along with its consumer-facing apps and API offered to third-party developers who want to integrate restaurant bookings into their wares, LaFourchette also sells its software to help restaurants move online, including booking and making better use of their data.
It’s these restaurant customer relationships and how it will enable TripAdvisor to strengthen its existing restaurant offering that appears to be the driver for this acquisition. And the fact LaFourchette has been profitable since end of 2013.
In turn, LaFourchette, whose biggest competitor is NASDAQ-listed OpenTable (which owns Toptable in the UK), will benefit from TripAdvisor’s global scale “to drive more diners into restaurants and investment capital to expand aggressively into new markets,” said Bertrand Jelensperger, CEO of LaFourchette in a statement.
Once the deal closes, LaFourchette and its existing employees will continue be based at the company’s European offices in Paris and Barcelona.
The LaFourchette deal is the latest in a buying spree by TripAdvisor. On Monday it acquired Tripbod, a London-based travel community that connects travelers to locals who can provide expert recommendations of things to do. On May 1st TripAdvisor bought Vacation Home Rentals, a Massachusetts-headquartered vacation rental site that lists 14,000 properties. TripAdvisor also hit the 100 million download mark for its mobile apps in April, up 2x in a year and 6x since 2011.
The acquisitions show TripAdvisor is willing to throw cash around to unify the fragmented market of services for travellers and their tourist destinations.