Patience bears sweet fruit, but so does selling your brand in a bid to expand. For travel social network WAYN, fourteen years of being a startup is about the limit. Selling to the Lastminute.com Group (which is almost as old as WAYN itself) in a deal whose terms have yet to be disclosed, WAYN now has a new lease on life.
Launched in 2002, WAYN was an unheard of, creative idea full of potential at its inception. It came much before Facebook, after all. Co-founders Jerome Touze, Pete Ward and Mike Lines, who started out in management consultancy, were quick to get on the Internet bandwagon with their idea for WAYN.
Starting out, it was a platform for young travelers to meet and share on, which accumulated 20 million members by the end. It made an effort to keep upgrading by adding new features like travel dating, flights integration(via Kayak and Momondo) and hotel booking(from Booking.com).
Back when it started up, it received a good jump-start, with 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. Of course, any new startup must go through the trial-and-error method to establish itself to its target audience. This was particularly true for WAYN. In the early days, it would spam its users’ address books, but dropped it later. It also switched from a subscription based model to free service after it received funding.
Now, it has managed to clinch its happy ending. The founders of WAYN, as well as a team of 20 spread out across the UK, Poland and South Africa, will now come under the umbrella of the new owner. Lastminute.com plans to add more media and content to its offering. One of these is The Travel People, a new branch to 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).
It’s quite a triumphant moment for online travel networks, and Peter Ward, co-founder and CEO of WAYN, definitely echoes the sentiment:
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.