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CEO Interview: GetYourGuide Funding Was Protection Against Bigger Players

@denschaal

Skift Take

With GetYourGuide’s latest funding, making it the most heavily funded startup in the annals of tours and activities, a potential acquisition price just got racheted up. With TripAdvisor’s acquisition of Viator, the market indeed is a “land grab” now for global expansion.

— Dennis Schaal

GetYourGuide announced a $25 million Series B funding round today, but co-founder and CEO Johannes Reck tells Skift that he actually signed the deal last week on the day that TripAdvisor revealed it was acquiring rival Viator for $200 million in cash.

Insiders in the tours and activities sector knew that Viator, founded in 1995 and with around $20 million in funding, has been trying to sell itself for some time.

Reck of GetYourGuide says the company’s Series B funding round, which brings its total funding to $45.5 million, the largest in tours and activities history, was designed “to protect ourselves against much bigger competition coming into the market with deep pockets.”

The GetYourGuide CEO was obliquely referring to competitors such as TripAdvisor, which still has current partnerships with GetYourGuide and new-possession Viator, as well as Expedia Inc., which has been toying with tours and activities for more than a decade, although it is not a big priority.

“We are not afraid of Expedia,” Reck says. “We believe they can be a potential partner and potential competitor.”

In addition to its online offerings of tours and activities, Expedia takes a bricks and mortar approach, as well, and staffs concierge desks at hotels in Hawaii, and is a major player in the 50th state.

Reck says GetYourGuide, based in Berlin, is “very grateful” about its partnership to provide tours and activities to TripAdvisor, adding he anticipates that the partnership will remain in place “for at least a period of time.”

Reck isn’t saying it, but Expedia can also be a potential acquirer, as can Booking.com and Chinese search and booking site Qunar, which has been making a major mobile push in tours and activities.

Kees Koolen, the former Booking.com CEO, and Fritz Demopoulos, founder and former CEO Qunar, participated in GetYourGuide’s Series A and B rounds, and are members of the GetYourGuide board.

Reck has long argued that GetYourGuide’s comprehensive approach to aggregating tours and activities trumps Viator’s old-school curation strategy, and self-servingly argues that the “new hot kid in town,” i.e. GetYourGuide, may have encumbered the Viator sales transaction.

Viator, on the other hand, might argue that TripAdvisor’s $200 million acquisition of Viator would argue against that analysis.

Meanwhile, Reck says GetYourGuide has plenty of money in the bank, and will use its fresh $25 million funding infusion to invest in technology, including mobile, and to “drive massive growth.”

“No one doubts that this will be a land grab now,” Reck says. “Any player in the market will try to go international as soon as possible.”

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