Skyscanner raises $192M, becomes latest ‘unicorn’

Travel search engine and comparison site Skyscanner has raised £128 million ($192 million) in a new round of funding, with the British start-up joining the growing list of "unicorns" – or start-ups valued over $1 billion.

The British company which is based in Edinburgh, Scotland, allows users to compare prices on hotels, flights and car hire from different providers.

"This financing round and our recent new hires allow us to build fantastic further tools for travelers," Gareth Williams, chief executive of Skyscanner, said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that the money will be used for global growth.

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The latest round is reported to have put the company's valuation above $1 billion, adding Skyscanner to the growing list of European unicorns.

Skyscanner brought on board five new investors for the latest round who all invested an undisclosed amount. Artemis, a global fund manager that manages more than $33 billion, investment manager Baillie Gifford, and Vitruvian Partners were all involved in the round. The strategic investment fund of the Malaysian government called Khazanah Nasional Berhad also invested. Yahoo! Japan, which is already a venture partner in Skyscanner Japan, also invested in this round.

The new investors join SEP and Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia, which invested in Skyscanner in October 2013, at the time valuing it at $800 million.

While in the start-up world it may seem like a big gap between two funding rounds, Skyscanner has opted to fuel growth through profits. Williams said that the company "has enjoyed high double-digit growth rates for some years now, and has been profitable since 2009".

Skyscanner was founded in 2003 and claims that it has 50 million users each month, while the mobile app has been downloaded over 40 million times.

Britain has the highest number of unicorns in Europe and counts companies such as Farfetch and Shazam among those companies. Scotland hasn't been the most prolific producer of high-valued technology start-ups, but FanDuel is another unicorn from there along with Skyscanner.