Expedia to buy Rail Distributor SilverRail Technologies

Expedia recognized some time ago that it needed to wire up rail providers, particularly in Europe and Asia, and now it is securing a technology leader in the space for its portfolio of transportation solutions. — Dennis Schaal

Expedia Inc., which began a distribution partnership last year with London-based SilverRail Technologies, entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the rail-service distributor.

Expedia would take a majority stake in SilverRail. No details on the financials were announced, but one person in a position to know said it was a decent outcome for both investors and SilverRail’s management team.

Founded in 2009, SilverRail had raised more than $70 million in funding from venture firms, including Mithril Capital Management and Canaan Partners.

“Rail is ready for an online revolution, and we’re ready to be a part of it. Rail’s shift online is one of the fastest growing areas of innovation in the $1.3 trillion travel market, and SilverRail is powering that innovation,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia Inc. CEO. “We are tremendously excited to welcome the incredibly talented SilverRail team into the Expedia family.”

SilverRail co-founder and CEO Aaron Gowell said in a statement that the company had been looking for an investor and that the acquisition would accelerate the company’s growth.

“The investment by Expedia will make our business bigger, stronger, and faster in executing current commitments and meeting the demand of new business,” Gowell said. “We were looking for an investor and partner that understood our ambitions and was committed for the long term. Expedia is an ideal fit for us, as it sees the huge potential in rail and has a history of keeping its brands nimble.”

It’s been a long haul for the company as it pivoted from a consumer play in its early years to trying to connect up rail companies around the world and to serve as a distributor.

Asked to elaborate on now Expedia views the acquisition, an Expedia spokeswoman said:

“The SilverRail investment would be consistent with Expedia Inc.’s strategy to own and power the best travel brands in the world and, as SilverRail has been a strong partner of the Expedia group of companies for years and is a helping to revolutionize the online rail experience for travelers around the globe, this deal would further diversify Expedia’s portfolio of travel offerings.

“Rail is an increasingly important component of travel — particularly in Europe and Asia — and we want to invest in innovation that ultimately drives the most complete choice for customers across the travel spectrum. The transaction will (once closed) enable Expedia Inc. to play an active role in bringing rail inventory online, while working closely with rail carrier partners, putting both companies in a place to focus on a strong, long-term investment in rail infrastructure.”

If and when the deal closes, there should be a lot more visibility into SilverRail’s financials as Expedia, as a pubic company, tends to provide some details on its various business lines.

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