Could Hopper Be the Google of Travel? Stealth Startup Secures $8 Million in Funding

September 3, 2011

3:00 pm

Hopper, a travel website founded by a team of former Expedia employees, recently raised $8 million in funding from Atlas Venture and Brightspark Ventures.

Led by CEO Frederic Lalonde and Chief of Product Joost Ouwerkerk, Hopper is currently in stealth mode. What we do know about Hopper is that the team is developing a website for consumer travel discovery – one that, according to Lalonde, will reinvent travel search.

Hopper’s travel-oriented search engine allows users to find destinations and products using only keywords. That means that a search for “best beaches in Europe” would instantly pull up a complete list of European destinations ranked by quality, along with the best flight and hotel packages for each.

It’s a well known fact that planning a trip online can be like pulling teeth – unnecessarily tedious and time consuming. Hopper aims to simplify the travel search process by efficiently wading through all the muck that is thousands of product search engines, travel sites, and local operators.

“There is no Amazon, iTunes, or even a real Google for travel….One of the reasons we wobbled so much in the beginning is because we were scared to admit we were building something that competes directly with Google – which we are,” Leland told NextMontreal.

The company said it is applying cluster computing techniques to build “the world’s largest database of travel information.” Using Machine Learning, NoSQL databases and Big Data processing, Hopper is focused on accepting natural language queries from users to enable a faster, more complete, and more flexible search than traditional travel sites.

Originally founded in Montreal, Hopper plans to open a new office in Boston, where it expects to double the size of its engineering team over the next year. The company previously raised $2 million in 2008, bringing its total funding to $10 million.

Although Hopper is currently in alpha testing, you can get an invite by liking them on Facebook or following them on Twitter.

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Trisha Cruz is a Tech Cocktail intern with a passion for writing and design. She is a rising third year at the University of Virginia majoring in Media Studies and minoring in Studio Art. Follow her at: @heytrisha

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