Fourteen years is a long time to be a startup, but long-time travel social network WAYN has finally cashed in its chips and sold to (almost equally old) online travel pioneer Lastminute.com Group. Terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed, so take that to mean what you will. WAYN’s founders and a team 20, based across the UK, Poland and South Africa, will transfer to the new owner.
The platform — which literally was all about “Where Are You Now” for young travellers to meet and share on — says it had 20 million members by the end and will be used by Lastminute to add more media and content to its offering. It has launched The Travel People, a new division reach customers through media and content. This now claims to have 43 million unique visitors every month across all its brands (Lastminute.com, Rumbo, Volagratis, Bravofly and Jetcost).
Launched in 2002 WAYN was a genuinely new idea at the time, pre-dating social networks like Facebook. Co-founders Jerome Touze, Pete Ward and Mike Lines had been in management consultancy but spotted the opportunities afforded by the Internet.
WAYN has since evolved by adding feature like travel dating, flights integration (Kayak and Momondo) and hotel booking (from Booking.com).
It raised a Series A round of $11 million from Scottish Equity Partners, Brent Hoberman (co-founder of Lastminute.com) and Howzat Media, a fund run by the founders of Cheapflights.
In the early ‘Wild West days’ WAYN was notorious for almost literally spamming its’ users address books, but managed to ditch that habit, dump a dated subscription model and power ahead as a free service after it raised money.
Peter Ward, WAYN, co-founder & CEO, said: “We’re really excited to become part of the lastminute.com group which will help us deliver our mission to help people make the most out of life, by inspiring people to travel more.”