May 14, 2012 at 01:54 AM EDT
Europe’s ‘OpenTable’ Livebookings Eats Up Another $24M From Balderton, Wellington, Ekstranda
Livebookings , the restaurant booking and marketing service that competes with services like OpenTable, is announcing today that it has picked up another $24 million (£15 million) in funding to continue growing its business in Europe and beyond. The news highlights two trends we've seen emerging recently around here: companies dedicated to eating out are not going hungry in the current economic climate; and the more local, European counterparts to U.S.-based tech companies are getting a lot of attention from investors and consumers. Today's round of funding, Livebookings' fourth, is being led by existing investors Balderton Capital, Wellington Partners and Ekstranda and takes the total amount raised by the company to about $62 million .
Livebookings logo

Livebookings, the restaurant booking and marketing service that competes with services like OpenTable, is announcing today that it has picked up another $24 million (£15 million) in funding to continue growing its business in Europe and beyond. The news highlights two trends we’ve seen emerging recently around here: companies dedicated to eating out are not going hungry in the current economic climate; and the more local, European counterparts to U.S.-based tech companies are getting a lot of attention from investors and consumers.

Today’s round of funding, Livebookings’ fourth, is being led by existing investors Balderton Capital, Wellington Partners and Ekstranda and takes the total amount raised by the company to about $62 million.

Colin Tenwick, CEO of Livebookings, has said that the funding will be used to fuel further growth. Existing business areas include online reservations and other restaurant services such as customer database management, email marketing campaigns, and the creation of special offers, and that menu of services may be getting longer:

“Over the last 18 months we have put in place the engines that drive growth by investing in the development of new products, building a larger sales force and implementing new customer support systems to facilitate the growing customer base,” Tenwick said in a statement. “The market-leading increase in dined covers, customers and revenue is testament to this strategy and the new funds will help us to increase our market leading position, deliver the most innovative products to the marketplace and drive even more incremental revenue for our customers.”

The company, headquartered in London, has operations in 23 countries including the U.S. and across Europe. Livebookings offers booking services directly to consumers, as well as through 300 distribution partners, including tastecard, Afternoon Tea and Eniro.se. In all there are 9,000 restaurants and chains powering online booking and other services through Livebookings.

Livebookings does not disclose current revenues, nor whether it is yet profitable, but it notes that in Q1 it saw record sales numbers, with revenues up 34 percent compared to the same quarter a year before. At the same time, the number of seated diners booked through the site went up 65 percent to 3.8 million; and Bookatable, its consumer-facing website, exceeded one million visits for the first time in the quarter for its service that operates in nine languages across 19 countries.

While it almost seems counter-intuitive for a businesses dedicated to eating out and spending more money to be thriving in the current economic climate in Europe, this isn’t the first time this has been noted. Just-Eat, a service that aggregates take-out/food delivery services from different restaurants, picked up $64 million in a third round of funding in April. Just-Eat said at the time that it was generating $750 million in sales generation annually.

And while U.S. companies are also taking a big bite out of European business, they are not taking it all. Just as Qype is claiming that it is actually doing significantly better than Yelp in Europe, Livebookings is also giving OpenTable a run for its money and claims to be the European leader in the field.

Still it should be noted that while growth is still coming for Livebookings, it looks like it may be slowing down somewhat: when the company announced its last round of funding, $10 million in April 2011, it noted that restaurant reservations went up by 92 percent over the year, compared to 65 percent growth this year.



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