Brent Hoberman, Co-Founder and (former) Chief Executive of
lastminute.com, one of the web’s biggest success stories, is one of the team
of investors who are collectively putting $11MILLION into www.WAYN.com, (Where
Are You Now?) it was revealed yesterday.
Brent will also become Chairman in January 2007 to help the WAYN boys on
their journey, having himself successfully taken lastminute.com public in the
dot com hey day, which led to its sale to Travelocity last year for GBP577m
Founders Pete Ward, 28, and pal Jerome Touze, 27, launched www.WAYN.com
in their spare time after returning home from a round-the-world trip with
combined debts of over GBP40,000.
But with Hoberman and a raft of industry heavyweights joining the board
and investing in their unique website, the lads can now look forward to a
debt-free future and an unrivaled support structure.
Hoberman, who is part of a syndicate of investors led by Esprit Capital
Partners, will be joined by the co-Founders of Active Hotels, which was sold
in 2004 for $161m (GBP90m), the CEO and Vice Chairman of Cheapflights.co.uk
and the co-founder and Managing Director of Jagex, which runs RuneScape, the
UK’s largest online multi-player game.
Securing high profile investors is yet another coup for the boys who
secured an initial investment from Stephen Pankhurst – the founder of Friends
Reunited – which helped get the business off the ground.
The new funding will help WAYN offer a host of new and improved benefits
to its members, including a tailored trip planner; the ability to share
experiences and tips with others in real time through rich media, and access
to exclusive travel and lifestyle benefits around the world. They are also
expanding their technical team which is based in Poland, and setting up shop
in the US.
The success of WAYN in the last 18 months has gone beyond Peter and
Jerome’s wildest expectations – membership has grown from 45,000 users in
March 2005 to over 7 million today, 2 million of which are based in the US and
Canada. Over 650,000 members joined last month alone.
Peter Ward, Co-founder of WAYN said “Back in 2002 we recognized the huge
potential for a travel community network. Travel captures the imagination and
meeting people from different places is something that most of us really enjoy
We’re so excited to be working with some of the most respected leaders in
their fields. Each investor brings to us something different and their input
in the next phase of our growth will be invaluable.”
Brent Hoberman said, “WAYN is a flagship example of the next generation
of internet companies born out of the UK with global potential. The innovative
customer proposition, which enables members to interact with others, based on
the places they have been or plan to visit in the future, has proved to be
extremely popular. By sharing tips and introductions with like-minded
travelers, WAYN members can get more out of their leisure time. The WAYN brand
has massive growth potential and I am delighted to be involved.”
Co-founder of WAYN Jerome Touze added: “This is an exciting time for WAYN
and we’re over the moon that other successful parties have the same confidence
and vision in our business as we do.
“We have come a very long way since we had the initial idea for WAYN and
we see this as just the beginning – we now have the financial backing to
accomplish all our goals and to hopefully share with others how the WAYN
community can help enrich the way we travel and interact with others”.