SideStep announced today that it has raised $15 million (approximately £7,613,000) in a Series C funding round led by Norwest Venture Partners (NVP).Round participants also include Trident Capital, Leader Ventures and Saints Capital. SideStep will use the funding to aggressively scale key areas of the business, while growing its leadership position in vertical search and building out its media and user-generated content offerings.
Established in the US in 1999, SideStep pioneered the travel search sector and is led by a management team of seasoned Internet veterans. The company originally developed and successfully deployed a downloadable toolbar that enabled consumers to compare their travel options across multiple sites for the first time. In 2005, SideStep unveiled www.sidestep.com , its comparison-shopping Web site, with options from more than 600 airlines, 150,000 hotels and 30,000 car rental locations worldwide. Since the launch of its Web site, the company has also incorporated local activities, deals, vacation packages, travel guides and cruises into its travel mix, and now serves more than 5 million consumers a month. SideStep launched in the UK in September 2006. As part of its growing content strategy, SideStep acquired TravelPost.com in October 2006. With this latest funding, the company will continue growing its user-generated content business in new ways.
Through the strength of its team, products and technology, SideStep has established partnerships with the largest names in travel, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Enterprise, Avis and Budget, and has assembled for advertisers a broad audience through its network of engaged consumers across all demographics.
‘The travel search category is fundamentally changing the way consumers research and shop for travel,’ said Rob Solomon, president and CEO, SideStep. ‘The commitment and confidence of these première financial partners is recognition of both the huge potential of travel search and of SideStep’s leading position within that market.’
‘SideStep is a tremendous consumer offering with outstanding market potential,’ said Robert Abbott, general partner at Norwest Venture Partners who will serve on the SideStep board. ‘The company’s technology, user-generated content, search products and leadership have earned the confidence of this combined investor group as a travel media company that will drive vertical search forward and create huge value for consumers.’