Rome2rio, one of the early pioneers of multi-modal travel search, will enter its tenth year with a new owner in the shape of rival brand Omio.
Germany-based Omio (formerly GoEuro) acquired the Australian company for an undisclosed fee.
Rome2rio's local media puts the deal in the region of AUS $40 million, which is close to the $25 million that has been spoken of privately in recent weeks.
Rome2rio had previously raised a modest $3.1 million in funding - a tiny amount compared to the larger Omio with its $300 million over the course of a number of rounds.
Omio brought in $150 million in a Series C round almost 12 months ago to the day.
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The company, which was created two years after Rome2rio in 2012, says it will continue to operate the Rome2rio platform, rather than folding it under the Omio brand.
The two businesses have taken different paths over the course of the last few years, with Rome2rio sticking to its metasearch roots for revenue whilst Omio has launched a full ticketing system (though "not an online travel agency," says its CEO Naren Shaam.
Speaking to PhocusWire ahead of the deal being announced today, Shaam says the acquisition is a "big moment" for the multi-modal sector as it will see the combination of two important players with "extremely complementary" services.
Omio's ticketing system will be plugged into the Rome2rio platform and, in return, Omio will start integrating the acquired brand's "routing engine."
There are no plans to close the Rome2rio brand and the management team of Michael Cameron (CEO), Craig Penfold (chief technology officer) and Bernie Tschirren (chief architect) will all join.
Rome2rio's acting CEO, Kirsteene Phelan, left in September this year.
Shaam says Rome2rio's underlying technology and global presence were two of a number of significant factors behind the acquisition.
Until recently, Omio (thus the former name) played mostly in the European multi-modal sector but Rome2rio had established itself on a bigger scale geographically, he says.
Between the two sites they have around 500 million users per year, Shaam claims.
Omio has expanded beyond the traditional multi-modal product lines (rail and air) to now include bookings for hotels, buses, ferries and airport transfers as part of the door-to-door service.
He says: "They have built a great product with innovative tech and delivered impressive growth. Together, our two brands will reach half a billion users every year and offer access to thousands of transportation operators globally, helping us deliver our vision to solve consumer travel globally.”
Cameron adds: "We have spent almost a decade refining our ability to help users figure out how to get from one corner of the globe to another. Now, with Omio, Rome2rio customers will be able to book tickets with more transport providers than ever before, and receive support throughout their journey."
Check out this interview with Shaam for the How I Got Here podcast, recorded in September this year.
Despite the apparent delight over the deal, in recent months there was significant disagreement over whether Rome2rio should continue to plow its own way or sell the business.
In an email to PhocusWire, Rod Cuthbert, Rome2rio's ex-CEO who left in late-2018 but remained a minority shareholder, says: "First of all, congratulations to Naren Shaam and his team; this is a great deal for them. Rome2rio brings a lot to Omio: 20 million monthly visitors, an unmatched global transport database, lightning fast search, and a loyal, global user base.
"From a personal viewpoint, I can't help thinking about the experience we had at Viator, where we had a great family and we all enjoyed the journey building the business - it was fun, we all learned a lot and we were always aiming at that ultimate goal of a big exit.
"When we got there, the ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) meant that all of the team did well financially. Everyone involved in the deal, I think, was happy with the outcome.
"We were on that same journey at Rome2rio. The staff totally bought into the long-term vision and I think we could’ve achieved a much bigger outcome had the founders not decided to sell now. I tried to change their minds but obviously I failed - I guess I'm a poor communicator!
"Minority shareholders often find themselves in a position where they have to just suck it up; that's where I find myself now. I just wish the team had the opportunity to complete the journey we'd set out on."
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