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Scottish unicorns Skyscanner and FanDuel reveal their exit plans 1 week apart

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Steven Kopicko
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Travel search engine giant Skyscanner revealed today that it is to be acquired by one of China s biggest online travel companies in a deal worth £1.4 billion USD$1.74 billion .

Skyscanner had raised the first significant round of funding in its 12-year history last December, sucking up £128 million USD$192 million at a valuation of $1.6 billion.Last week, news emerged that fantasy sports titans FanDuel and DraftKings are to merge, as a way of cutting down on legal costs and advertising spending.

Both companies were already valued at more than $1 billion, which conferred on them their much-coveted unicorn status.On the surface, Skyscanner s exit bears little connection to that of the aforementioned fantasy sports duo, but digging down into the backgrounds of Skyscanner and FanDuel, some interesting parallels emerge.Scotland isn t particularly well-known for its unicorn startups or high-profile mergers and acquisitions, but the U.K. constituent country has been home to Skyscanner since its inception way back in 2003, and to FanDuel since it was a virtual money news prediction platform called HubDub in 2009.But Skyscanner and HubDub not only operate in the very same city, they are located in the very same office block, a glass-facade building in the center of the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.Although FanDuel s official headquarters is now in the U.S. New York , given that it s where the vast chunk of the company s business currently takes place, its main engineering and operational hub remains in Edinburgh.In an interview with VentureBeat back in May, FanDuel cofounder and CEO Nigel Eccles explained the rationale for keeping the company s main base in Edinburgh when the entirety of its business was in North America.

When we went to the States pitching, we always seemed to end up on the West Coast, he said.

But we found that by the time we started to raise significant amounts of money, we had already built a very good engineering base in Edinburgh.

So once we got to scale, we said Edinburgh should really be our engineering base, rather than trying to move everything to the U.S.

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Steven Kopicko
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