SilverRail Technologies, a business-to-business platform for train ticketing, has acquired 75% of Linkon (pronounced "link on"), which powers the online retailing of Swedish trains.
The 110-employee company does about $30 million equivalent in turnover a year on about 100,000 reservations a day.
Linkon was a wholly-owned subsidiary of the SJ Group, Sweden's national railway operator running mostly long-distance routes. SJ retains a 25% stake.
The Linkon acquisition gives SilverRail insight into inventory, supplier IT, and mobile ticket delivery--aspects of the value chain that are complementary with SilverRail's specialties in search.
Of note, 85% of all rail tickets in Sweden are currently delivered via mobile, the world's highest rate. SilverRail hopes that Linkon's success with mobile ticketing could be adapted and used elsewhere.
CEO Aaron Gowell told Tnooz:
"We've always wanted to build better search, like what ITA Software by Google did for air.
Now that we have one of the global rail industry's most cutting-edge inventory systems, we can reverse engineer a good mirror of a carrier's inventory, to improve our search functions and learn better about the typical carrier's needs....
We also want to innovate at the local level. Linkon has deep connections into local bus, ferry, and even some taxi systems, and SilverRail has the ability to do multi-modal journey planning....
Imagine a CityMapper that gives you a single ticket that can work across a journey involving rail, train, and ferry."
Gowell is interested in how real-time data and user-generated data could improve search. Could information about train delays be exposed to consumers, and aggregate back user-generated data the Waze does with vehicle traffic reports? he wonders.
Having brought onboard eight countries in Europe, plus North America and Canada, SilverRail plans to move into Asia in 2015.
Google, its subsidiary Waze, CityMapper, and Rome2Rio, GoEuro, Europe's largest state-owned railway companies, and the global distribution system Amadeus are all competing with aspects of the business that SilverRail is tackling.
Prior to the deal, SilverRail already had about 75 employees in London, Boston, and Brisbane. For the near-term, Linkon's CEO and management team will run the company as a subsidiary of SilverRail.
MORE: An April 2014 Q&A with SilverRail's CEO on its long-term strategy