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Travel & Mobility Tech Newsletter

Dear Readers

This is our last issue of the year. 2018, you have been a pleasure!
Thank you all for subscribing to our newsletter. If you enjoyed our content, send it to a friend or colleague.
At the beginning of the year, we kicked-off this format with a simple mission: provide unconventional, data-driven market research for everyone who wants to try and stay caught up on emerging startups, the latest VC deals and the most pressing trends in the fast-moving Travel and Mobility Tech sector.

We feel humbled to have become a widely-read format among digital experts of our industry. 
We will continue building on that in 2019. If you have suggestions on how to improve, please do not hesitate to let us know. Happy holidays!

Lennart Dobravsky
Trend & Market Research Analyst 
Trend Radar

Berlin Startups Close An Exceptional Year For Travel & Mobility Tech 

Innovation in Travel & Mobility Tech has accelerated dramatically over the past few years, resulting in record amounts of venture capital invested.

Over the past 12 months, more money was injected into startups from the travel and mobility space than ever before. 
With 11 days left this year, total VC amounts already stand at more than $41.5 billion which would mean a +63% increase in dollars allocated to startups compared to last year's record high of $25.5 billion.

We projected investors’ growing appetite for our sector already at the beginning of the year, as Travel & Mobility Tech has arguably been one of the most innovative, hence, most attractive verticals for investors for quite some time.
In fact, investors and future-oriented corporations have been eying Travel & Mobility Tech startups primarily since 2014, resulting in a growing share of dollars allocated to our ecosystem compared to the entire VC industry across all verticals.

All in all, 2018 has been a fantastic year for startups looking for funding to implement their ideas to change the way we travel and challenge how we best get from A to B.

What remains to be seen at this point is how long this funding trend will be able to maintain its current pace.
We continue to see a lot of innovative ideas and disruptive startups emerging. However, we are also noticing louder and louder signals that might indicate a more challenging environment for capital markets in 2019, including those that power the startup economy (for details, check out “Thinking ahead to 2019” by VC guru Fred Wilson).
Here an example:

The number of mega rounds (VC deals in excess of $100 million) in Travel & Mobility Tech has been lower in Q4/2018 than for any of the previous quarters this year.
Number of mega deals in 2018:

  • Q4/2018 = 10
  • Q3/2018 = 11
  • Q2/2018 = 15
  • Q1/2018 = 15

We shouldn't read too much into this potential downward trend (yet). Especially, since from a regional perspective, the past few weeks have been very exciting, particularly for our hometown Berlin.

Eight Travel & Mobility Tech startups located in the capital of Germany raised significant funding rounds in the past ten weeks, proving Berlin’s well-deserved reputation as one of Europe’s hotspots for (digital) innovation and entrepreneurship – especially in the Travel & Mobility Tech context.

Check out this overview: 

These major funding events into Berlin-based ventures shake up the ranking of the most funded Travel & Mobility startups across all of Germany.

Berlin is now home to six of the top ten VC-backed ventures (compared to only four as of Q3/2018):

Web Radar

David Neeleman: The Serial Airline Founder Spots The Digital Opportunity

One of the industry's most renowned innovators, JetBlue founder David Neeleman, is launching another airline. The new carrier is called Moxy (working title) and is supposed to resemble more of a tech company than a classic airline.

In a rare and valuable interview, Neeleman points to Uber and Amazon as role models for his new company, especially when it comes to consumer interaction. Just think of necessary customer service in response to flight disruptions that urgently need to become fully digitized. 

It seems like Neeleman is not simply launching a new airline for the sake of it, but because he has identified (another) niche opportunity with the potential to advance the entire industry.

His track record proves that the chances are good: 
  • 1984: co-founded Morris Air (USA) which was later sold to Southwest for $130M
  • 1996: co-founded Westjet, which today is the 2nd largest carrier in Canada with a 179-aircraft-strong fleet and total revenue of $2.35 bn
  • 1999: founded JetBlue, today the 6th largest US carrier with a fleet of 254 and $7 bn in revenues
  • 2008: founded Azul, the 3rd largest Brazilian carrier with a fleet of 124 and revenue in excess of $2 bn
  • 2015: acquired Tap Portugal to initiate restructuring and equipping Tap to become the 1st airline to fly the brand new Airbus A330neo
  • 2018: announced project Moxy (USA)
Moxy has already raised $100 million in venture capital and reserved order slots for 60 Airbus A220, which Neeleman sees as the most versatile aircraft to provide the necessary flexibility when it comes to network planning. The delivery of the fleet is expected to kick-off by 2021.

 Read the full interview on CN Traveler

Startup Radar

One Step Closer To Space Tourism 

You thought Paris was a fancy travel destination? Wait until you can visit space.

After 14 years of extensive development and testing, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic accomplished its first manned space flight on December 13th. This marks an important leap towards commercial space tourism as it was the first time ever a commercial craft built to carry paying passengers reached space.

Reaching space is obviously no easy endeavor and there are heated discussions taking place online as to the exact altitude levels at which space is actually reached.

According to U.S. Air Force's standards, Virgin Galactic succeeded by reaching an altitude of 82.7 km. Watch this historic moment in the video below: 

With this accomplishment, Virgin Galactic seems to be in the pole position against its two prominent space-travel competitors: 

Blue Origin – founded and backed by Amazon's Jeff Bezos – is currently in the midst of launching the (unmanned) New Shepard rocket on its tenth mission into suborbital space where it will experience a few minutes of weightlessness before returning to earth.

Elon Musk's SpaceX – one of Travel & Mobility Tech's 35 unicorns – already employs several thousand people and is about to raise another $500 million in VC funding. The first loop-around-the-moon trip is scheduled for 2023.
Press Radar

Our Recommended Must Reads 

ELON MUSK OPENS UNDERGROUND TUNNEL – As if going to space wasn't enough, Musk's Boring Company unveiled a sample tunnel that is part of his vision to have an underground network that cars, preferably Teslas, can be lowered to by lifts, then slotted into tracks and propelled along at speeds up to 240km/h (150 mph).
 Read more in South China Morning Post
GOOGLE INFORMS ABOUT FLIGHT DELAYS – A year ago, Google began providing initial flight-delay predictions. In the upcoming weeks, the tech giant plans on taking its services one step further: the Google Assistant service will begin sending mobile flight-delay notifications – and offer reasons for the foul-ups, such as: "30-minute delay because the incoming flight is tardy".
 Read more in Skift
AMAZON TARGETS AIRPORT RETAIL – The retail giant is exploring the debut of its techy, scan-and-go shops "Amazon Go" at airports, according to a report by Reuters. Retail and airport experts project that the Amazon Go model could bring a major boon to airport shopping as a whole.
 Read more in The Washington Post
NEXT YEAR'S MOBILE TRAVEL TRENDS – What does 2019 hold for mobile travel? More web traffic now comes from mobile than desktop. Travelers are booking holidays using just an Instagram photo, asking Siri to check their flight status, getting their boarding passes from messenger platforms and using augmented reality to check their baggage size. 
 Read up on all the trends on Travelport Digital
Funding Radar

Most Recent Venture Capital Deals

 = Unicorn Alert (post-deal company valuation at >$1B)
= Exit Alert (Startup listed at 
stock exchange or acquired)

 Fosun Tourism Group – the Chinese provider of tourism activities for the Chinese market and owner of luxury resort brand Club Med raised $426M in its Hong Kong initial public offering.
 HomeToGo – a Berlin-based vacation rental search engine raised $150M in funding from Insight Venture Partners, Acton Capital Partners, DN Capital, Global Founders Capital, Lakestar, and further investors. It also acquired its largest US competitor for an undisclosed amount. 

Grab – the Singaporean ride-hailing platform raised $150M in strategic funding for its ongoing Series H round from Yamaha Motor intended to collaborate on motorbike-hailing services. 

CityBee – a Lithuanian car-sharing startup raised $124.74M in funding from the Modus Group. 

Vogo – an Indian dockless e-scooter (moped) startup raised $100M in strategic funding from ride-hail company Ola.

 Traveloka – the Indonesian operator of an online travel search engine acquired three of its rivals in Southeast Asia: PegiPegi (Indonesia), MyTour (Vietnam), and TravelBook (the Philippines) for $66.80M. 

Optibus – an Israeli developer of a mobility technology platform raised $40M in funding from Insight Venture Partners, Verizon Ventures, Alibaba Group, Pitango Venture Capital, and further investors. 

Tourlane – a Berlin-based individual tour booking company raised $24M in funding from Sequoia Capital, Spark Capital, Holtzbrinck Ventures, and DN Capital. 

Dott – an Amsterdam-based e-scooter service provider raised $23.30M in funding from Naspers Ventures, EQT Ventures, Axel Springer Digital Ventures, DN Capital, and further investors. 

SnapTravel – a Toronto-based operator of an online platform designed to offer hotel booking services raised $13.20M in additional funding from
inovia Capital, Telstra Ventures, Lightbank, Bee Partners, Hedgewood, and further private investors. 

WhyHotel – a Washington-based provider of an accommodation booking platform raised $10M in funding from Highland Capital Partners, Geolo Capital, Revolution, MetaProp NYC, and further investors. 

AsiaYo – a Taiwan-based provider of a travel accommodation booking platform raised $7M in funding from Alibaba Taiwan Entrepreneurs Fund, China Development Financial, Darwin Ventures, and Delta Ventures, and further undisclosed investors. 

Neuron Mobility – a Singapore-based e-scooter service provider raised $3.60M in funding from SeedPlus, 500 Startups, SEEDS Capital, ACE Capital, and further private investors. 

Wow Venue – a Mumbai-based developer of a travel and venue booking platform raised $1.50M in angel funding. 

C Teleport – a Rotterdam-based online maritime travel agency raised $1.37M in funding from Mainport Innovation Fund II, which was founded by Schiphol, KLM, TU Delft, NS and the Port of Amsterdam.

Clevershuttle – a Berlin-based provider of a carpool rental platform has received majority funding from Madsack for its operations in Dresden, Germany. 

AeroCRS – a Tel-Aviv-based provider of a cloud-based airline reservation technology raised an undisclosed amount in funding from 

 Where Is My Train – an Indian developer of a train tracking application was acquired by Google for an undisclosed amount. 

Luckey Homes – a Paris-based developer of a
short term online rental platform was acquired by Airbnb for an undisclosed amount. 

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