U.S. private-equity firm General Atlantic has agreed to invest an undisclosed sum in Kiwi.com, a travel tech startup whose flagship product is selling cheap airplane tickets. The deal, announced Monday, is the latest sign investors see opportunity in the online travel sector.
The investment buys out past equity investors and makes General Atlantic the majority owner of Kiwi.com, a startup that launched in 2012.
“We intend to show the world we’re something bigger than an OTA [online travel agency] and to transform our product into something that goes beyond the standard OTA capabilities,” said CEO Oliver Dlouhý.
Co-founders Dlouhý and chief technology officer Jozef Képesi will remain significant shareholders. The board will shortly consist of members from the management, General Atlantic, and some independent members.
General Atlantic has been a major investor focusing on companies with the potential for strong growth. In 2015 it was one of the firms that led a $1.5 billion investment in Airbnb. Other investments in the online travel industry included Priceline, Despegar, Mafengwo, Meituan, and Uber.
“This startup’s ability to attract a large investor like General Atlantic goes to show that there is still room for new players in the crowded online travel booking space,” said Skift Senior Research Analyst Seth Borko. “Kiwi.com grew partly by offering a differentiated product and partly by developing a strong presence in one region first.”
Kiwi.com said it has taken only about $1.7 million (€1.5 million) in equity investment from a handful of angel investors and small venture firms. It processed more than $1 billion in gross bookings last year, it said.
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