E-commerce supremo Ray Nolan flies high on $1.74bn Skyscanner sale

24 Nov 2016

Scottish unicorn Skyscanner was born out of the frustration that came when trying to compare and match flights and hotels online. Image: amirraizat/Shutterstock

The sale of Scottish unicorn Skyscanner to Chinese travel giant Ctrip.com for $1.74bn is guaranteed to keep one pair of Irish eyes smiling: those of e-commerce and software supremo Ray Nolan, who is understood to have a 2pc stake in Skyscanner.

It emerged last night that China’s biggest travel company, Ctrip.com, has agreed to buy travel search site Skyscanner in a deal valuing the company at $1.74bn.

Skyscanner emerged as a result of CEO and founder Gareth Williams’s frustration with finding cheap flights and hotels.

The site serves 60m people in over 30 languages.

Travel and e-commerce are a subject close to Nolan’s heart, and his stake in Skyscanner is understood to be around 2pc, or worth a potential $34m.

Nolan is a highly successful Irish technology entrepreneur, who has created companies like Web Reservations International and Hostelworld. Last year, Hostelworld floated publicly, raising €180m.

Nolan served as chairman of Skyscanner for at least three years, during which he is understood to have massively increased the company’s profitability.

He is believed to have made an initial investment of around $800,000 in Skyscanner, which means he has made more than a 30-fold return on his investment.

His latest project XSellco has rapidly grown from six employees in early 2015 to currently employing 40 people.

Last week, the company revealed plans to hire 40 additional people.

XSellco’s platform consolidates incoming queries and order data from sales channels like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart, as well as the user’s own web store.

From a Black Friday to a very good Friday for retailers

Ray Nolan’s XSellco to create 40 new jobs

From left: Ray Nolan, chairman of XSellco and Victor Corcoran, CEO of XSellco. Image: Leon Farrell

In data revealed by XSellco this morning, the pivotal Black Friday online shopping day could be a considerable boon for Irish online retailers if last year’s figures are anything to go by.

According to the data, Black Friday sales last year were 68pc higher than a normal Friday, whereas sales on Cyber Monday were just 25pc higher.

Mobile phones were the biggest seller in 2015 and sold more than 84pc against a normal weekend. Tablets (up 134pc) and TVs (up 69pc) were also strong performers.

According to eMarketer, e-commerce will account for 9pc of global retail sales this year, rising to 15pc by 2020.

Skyscanner travel app. Image: amirraizat/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years