campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 20 May 2005 03:43PM
1998: While working at Spectrum management consultancy, Martha Lane Fox (pictured) and Brent Hoberman cook up the idea for an online business selling excess hotel and flight capacity. Within a year, they are media darlings and are being feted in the City.
2000: In March, Lastminute.com lists on the London Stock Exchange. The flotation price is 380p a share but within minutes it is trading at 555p. Thus, a company with hardly any revenue achieves an instant market capitalisation of £835 million. But within a week the dotcom bubble bursts.
2002: Having plumbed the depths - its share price falls to 17p a pop at one point - Lastminute turns in its first quarterly profit, although it still records a loss for the full year. However, it now begins an aggressive acquisition strategy, picking up 14 online travel companies, including holidayautos.com, travelprice.com and travel4less.co.uk, over the next couple of years.
2003: The company reports its first full-year profit and, with analysts predicting that online's share of travel spend will climb to 20 per cent and above by 2005, the share price starts taking off again - although there's another setback in November when Lane Fox is forced to quit as its managing director after she is injured in a car crash while on holiday in Morocco.
Now: Lastminute accepts a £577 million takeover by Sabre Holdings, the owner of Travelocity. Hoberman's shares are worth £26 million, while Lane Fox will receive £13.5 million for hers. Hoberman vows to stay on as the company's chief executive.
Fast forward ...
2007: Having taken a prolonged sabbatical, Lane Fox returns to the fray with an online retail clothing proposition called Boohoo.com. It attracts phenomenal interest from the press and the City and when it debuts on the Stock Exchange its share price doubles within minutes. A day later, the second dotcom bubble bursts.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk