Big move in the world of trip planning and travel management with business travel system provider Carlson Wagonlit expected to announce the acquisition of WorldMate.
Neither organisation will confirm the deal but it is anticipated that the acquisition will be announced in the coming days or early next week, with a price somewhere in the region of $20 million being paid for the San Francisco-based company.
WorldMate is essentially a business travel itinerary and management system for Blackberry, Android and Apple devices. It is also powers the Blackberry Travel native app.
The company currently has around 25 employees located in the US and at a technical hub in Tel Aviv, Israel. It is privately funded with investors including Motorola Ventures and the BlackBerry Partners Fund.
The sale will end a 12-year (yes, 12 years in mobile travel) run for the company after it was originally launched by founder Nadav Gur in June 2000 under the MobiMate name, with WorldMate becoming the primary product.
A new management team under current CEO and the appropriately named Jean Tripier was formed over the course of 2010 and 2011, with the name MobiMate slowly dropped from all branding and marketing and Gur leaving the company.
The company also amassed a string of big names to its advisory board over the years, including Mony Hassid (MD of Motorola Mobility Ventures) and Brent Hoberman (founder and CEO of Lastminute.com).
For much of its history, Worldmate’s leading source of income was subscription revenue. But the company said in July this year that booking commissions and its white label/API licensing business were growing rapidly.
On the marketing front, WorldMate also said it spends nothing on acquiring customers and growth is on the strength of its distribution partnerships and word of mouth, especially among high-spending business travelers.
Those partnerships have grown thick and fast in recent years, with a Travelport deal in May 2010, American Express earlier that year and, of course, an alliance with CWT.
The sale, however, signifies once again how so-called traditional business travel management platforms such as CWT are reaching out to third party providers for expertise and technology.
Trip planning service TripIt sold to Concur in January 2011, in a deal reported at the time to be worth up to $120 million after an initial outlay of $82 million in cash and stock.