By Ben Kolada
In a fairly rare M&A move, AOL (NYSE:AOL) has acquired online travel journal startup Everlater to expand its MapQuest offering into the travel industry. The announcement coincides with the launch of MapQuest Discover, an interactive travel planning and discovery tool. Although this appears to be AOL’s first acquisition specifically for MapQuest, it may not be the last.
Founded in 2008 and based in Boulder, Colorado, Everlater provides a free online travel journal for consumers, as well as a paid customer engagement and travel planning product called Concourse for companies in the tourism industry. The startup lists six employees on its site and had secured about $750,000 from incubator TechStars and venture firm Highway 12 Ventures. Terms of its sale were not disclosed.
The move by AOL is an attempt to reinvigorate its staid MapQuest mapping assets, with an apparent focus on consumers (MapQuest’s B2B licensing services revenue has been declining). The acquisition of Everlater also appears to be the first inorganic move AOL has made specifically to expand MapQuest beyond navigation to providing original travel content and planning features. (We’d note, though, that AOL has bought other local content companies, including Patch Media and Going Inc in 2009.)
To expedite the growth of MapQuest’s travel content and interactive features, AOL could do additional small acquisitions in the travel and tourism sector, similar to what TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP) has done over the past half-decade. In the past five years, TripAdvisor has announced nearly a dozen travel-related acquisitions, including the recent pickups of Wanderfly, Where Ive Been and EveryTrail.