Edinburgh-based company acquires local start-up Youbibi to gain foothold in domestic travel comparison
By Christopher Williams, Technology, Media and Telecoms Editor
Skyscanner, the British flight search company, aims to challenge Baidu, the dominant Chinese web search engine, with the acquisition of Youbibi, a local domestic travel price comparison start-up
The deal will see Youbibi’s 20-strong team, based in Shenzen, come under the control of Skyscanner’s existing Chinese operation in Beijing.
Skyscanner, based in Edinburgh, said the acquisition will provide mostly expertise in product development and domestic travel. Youbibi’s search receives only 100,000 visitors per month, roughly a tenth of Skyscanner’s Chinese website.
Andy Sleigh, Skyscanner’s general manager for Asia, said: “It’s primarily and engineering workforce. Our team in Beijing is primarily a sales and marketing workforce.”Skyscanner refused to disclose the financial terms of the acquisition.
Like Skyscanner, Youbibi specialises in ‘metasearch’, or searching comparison sites. It is focused on the Chinese domestic tourism market, which the central government last year said it would make a development priority over the next seven years. Chinese travellers will spend $75bn online in 2017, according to estimates by iResearch.
Steven Pang, Youbibi’s chief executive, said: “We are proud of the technology that we have developed and, by bringing this together on our platform with Skyscanner’s global flight expertise, we believe we can create a really exciting travel search tool for all Chinese travellers.”
Skyscanner established its Beijing operation in 2012 via a deal with Baidu, which controls about four fifths of the Chinese web search market. The British company provides Baidu with international flight price comparison data.
Its push into the domestic market with Youbibi will put it in direct competition with Qunar, Baidu’s own domestic travel search tool.