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John Cook is reporting that travel search provider Farecast has been acquired by Microsoft for $115 million. Farecast is a travel prediction engine which attempts to help you find the most ideal time to purchase tickets.
Microsoft says that they will integrate the Farecast techology into MSN Travel. Is that worth $115 million? Cook stated that there were other companies interested in acquiring Farecast — perhaps it was a defensive move by Microsoft. How do you purchase your travel? I’ve always used the provider Web site (and occasionally Priceline) as I am a points and awards maximizer.
In what might be the shortest acquisition post ever, CEO Hugh Crean stated, "This acquisition creates tremendous opportunities for the Farecast team and our customers. We look forward to sharing more details in the weeks to come."
Initial investor Madrona Venture Group noted that the investment returned more than five times the money invested. It was a "very nice financial return for us," Matt McIlwain of Madrona said.
As a side note, our post about Farecast moving into beta in late August 2006 was one of the first pieces of content ever on CN.
Farecast, a Seattle based startup, launched a 55 city beta today of their product. The basic idea is that you can find the best fares available at the current time for your selected trip. The RSS feed, one of the best features of Farecast, allows you to keep up to the minute watch over your trip plans to determine when is the right time to buy.
Example RSS feed (my most popular route):
I look forward to watching the expansion of Farecast as I have a wishlist of suggestions for them besides the beta list they already have:
International access – This could result in bigger savings for travelers
First/Business availability – I typically try to fly in First/Business and many business travelers do as well
I think the site looks and functions very well. There are many ads but they have kept them outside the content area.
It will be interesting to watch how Expedia/Orbitz and the others react to Farecast.