Lastminute’s founder backs WAYN.com

Brent Hoberman, founder of Lastminute.com, is all set to enter the lucrative internet social networking market.


The entrepreneur will become chairman of WAYN.com (Where Are You Now?) in January next year, the company aims to become the MySpace of the travel industry.

His appointment comes as a part of a funding round led by Espirit Capital Partners, which has raised $11m of investment for the company.

WAYN.com, formed in London in 2002, will use the funding to create new revenue streams, expand its staff and enlarge the geographical base of the company.

 

Other ‘heavyweights’ involved in the funding round include David Soskin and Hugo Burge, who are respectively the chairman and vice chairman of Cheapflights.

The co-founders of Active Hotels, Adrian Critchlow and Andy Phillips, are also backers as is Constant Tedder, the co-founder and managing director of Jagex Ltd, which runs RuneScape, the UK’s largest online multi-player game.

Where Are You Now? (WAYN) purports to be the world’s largest travel and lifestyle social network.

It allows its users to keep their friends and family informed of where they are when they are travelling and where they are going next.

Members can also share their experiences with others by adding details of their favourite places and sharing tips on where to stay and things to do.

The site has grown enormously this year and now has 7m members, rising from just 45,000 in March 2005.

Social networking sites have taken off globally in the last year, and it is estimated that the major social networks have well in excess of 20 million members in the UK alone.

Meanwhile, sites such as MySpace, Bebo and Friendster have all become global phenomena in the past year and attracted at least 160m people worldwide.

Also, recent research by eMarketers has revealed that advertising spend on social networking sites is set to top $1.8 billion by 2010.

Brent Hoberman said: “WAYN is a flagship example of the next generation of internet companies with global potential born out of the UK.

“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 likeminded travellers, WAYN members can get more out of their leisure time.

“The WAYN brand has massive growth potential and I am delighted to be involved.”

© Crimson Business Ltd. 2006

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